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ER Flu Visits Increase

Hospitals in Miami-Dade County are reporting increases in the amount of flu-related emergency room visits compared to a year ago, the Miami Herald reports. According to a report from the county Department of Health, 5.9 percent of ER visits between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3 were because of the flu. Last year at that time, the flu accounted for 3.6 percent of the ER visits in Miami-Dade, the Herald reports. 

Volusia and Flagler counties are also getting hit hard, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach saw 319 cases of flu from Nov. 30 to Jan. 3; last year during that period, the hospital had 85 cases, according to the News-Journal.

Part of the reason for the high number of cases is a mutation in the virus that’s causing the vaccine to be less effective. The primary strain that’s circulating is H3N2, which is not directly covered by this year’s  flu shot.

Since the start of the season, 21 children in the United States have lost their lives to the flu. Three of them were in Florida, including an 11-year-old boy in Bradenton who died last month after experiencing complications related to the disease. The other children died in late November, in Orange and Pasco Counties, according to the Florida Department of Health.

--Health News Florida intern Megan Milanese is part of WUSF Public Media in Tampa. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Megan Milanese is an intern with WUSF’s health reporting project Health News Florida.