NJ Health Department: State is seeing spike in flu cases this year
The New Jersey Department of Health says there's been a significant rise in flu cases after an almost non-existent flu season last year.
The department has reported just over 6,000 positive influenza cases since the start of the season in October.
"I think a lot of people kind of became complacent, and started not wearing masks out, and we reopened schools and business reopened," says Monmouth Medical Center emergency department interim chair Dr. William Downs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey is one of seven states with high levels of flu activity.
Downs says that Monmouth Medical Center is seeing an uptick.
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"We're definitely seeing more cases of influenza," he says.
According to its most recent influenza surveillance report, the Department of Health also says that seven outbreaks of influenza occurred in long-term care facilities.
No pediatric deaths have been reported, which is another way the government tracks the flu. Doctors expect it to get worse as winter progresses.
"I think the next few weeks are going to be very challenging. We saw this big spike starting right after Thanksgiving holidays, and we're always prepared for this type of stuff, but it did come on quicker than I think all of us anticipated," Downs says.
Flu symptoms are similar to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, so you may not know which one you have without a test.
Doctors say it's important to test, ramp up on protective measures like wearing masks, and get both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot.
Some doctors' offices and hospitals, including Monmouth Medical Center, test for both the flu and COVID-19 with what's called a LIAT test.
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