Health

Experts expect long, nasty flu season

We're barely into this year's flu season and already the state Department of Health has reported three deaths related to influenza.

Two King County adult and a child from Pierce County have already died, and the number of people sick from the flu is on the rise in Snohomish County.

Getting the flu is a miserable experience, and if it hasn't already hit your house or office or child's school, experts say you should brace yourself, because it may be coming.

"We are having an early influenza season. And it's a serious influenza season and we've had a definite up tick in hospitalization," said Tim McDonald with the Snohomish Health District.

So far this season, Snohomish County hospitals have treated 52 people for the flu. During the same time last year, that number was four. It was zero the year before.

"It's a new strain, new to our population," McDonald said.

The increasing flu numbers aren't unique to the Pacific Northwest, either. The east coast, especially the southeast, has also been slammed. The flu will continue to spread into March.

King County infant dies of pertussis

King County infant dies of pertussis

A newborn baby in King County died last week from pertussis, the infection commonly known as whooping cough.

King County Public Health reports the infant died on Dec. 13, though further details have not been released to protect the family’s privacy. This is the first person in King County to die from pertussis in 2012. To date, there have been 752 reported cases of the infection since Jan. 1.

The health department is urging residents, especially pregnant mothers, to get the pertussis vaccine. For healthy adults, the infection most typically results in cold- or flu-like symptoms without serious side effects. But for infants, pertussis can be fatal.  

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that pregnant women get the Tdap vaccine between their 27th and 36th weeks to protect their babies. The vaccine provides a temporary immunity for infants until they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves, typically at 2 months of age. Still, only 5 percent of pregnant women in the country get the vaccine.

“We believe in taking all steps possible to prevent even a rare death,” says Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease for Seattle and King County Public Health.

Give a ride, save a life

"What can I do to help?"

It’s the question that the friends and family of cancer patients so often ask. They want to help, they just don’t know how.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is offering you a chance to help local cancer patients in a very simple way: Just give them a ride.

The “Road to Recovery” program has been providing cancer patients throughout King County with transportation to medical appointments since 1981. While the program has helped thousands, a shortage of volunteer drivers means ACS has to turn away an average of one cancer patient every day needing a ride to the doctor. For many that means taking the bus – exposing them to excess germs or taking excessively longer to get where they’re going. Others are forced to pay for a cab, even if they are struggling with medical expenses. Some even end up missing their treatment. 

“We are desperate for volunteers,” said Amber Guinotte, Quality of Life Manager at ACS. “Transportation is one of the greatest needs among patients.”

Scenes Inside the Shoremont

I took these photos on August 24 inside the deteriorating Shoremont Apartments.

You can see the black mold problem and the overall interior condition of the Shoremont.