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Pierce County flu epidemic death toll hits 12

A sign telling customers that they can get a flu shot in a Walgreen store is seen in Indianapolis.
A sign telling customers that they can get a flu shot in a Walgreen store is seen in Indianapolis. AP file, 2014

The death toll in Pierce County from the flu epidemic now stands at 12, up from five last week.

“Most are between 60 and 90 years old and had underlying health conditions,” the Tacoma Pierce-County Health Department said in a statement Tuesday. The youngest victim was in her 40s.

The epidemic is raising hospitalizations and deaths to much higher levels than this time in 2016. The state reported 24 flu-related deaths last week, before the recent Pierce County deaths were reported.

Flu season generally runs from October to April and peaks in February and March. Pierce County recorded its first flu-related death Dec. 19.

A total of 25 people died during the 2014-15 flu season in Pierce County. Last season, 15 died.

Long-term health care facilities are reporting flu outbreaks as well — 20 in Pierce County so far.

Hospital admissions for flu-related illness were first reported in mid-October for Pierce County. As of Saturday they stood at 265.

Washington state epidemiologist says the flu is at epidemic levels. Local hospitals, including Tacoma General, are at or near capacity.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor

FLU INFORMATION

Learn more about where to get the flu vaccine and about other flu facts at tpchd.org/flu.

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