Deadly flu season hitting big in the Pacific Northwest

TACOMA, Wash. -- The flu season is peaking earlier than normal this season, and more deaths have been reported.

Snohomish County officials say a Bothell woman in her thirties died last Saturday, and health workers are now urging everyone to get a flu shot.

The H1N1 Swine Flu has returned, along with other strains. But, unlike the last outbreak a few years ago, health officials say there's no shortage of vaccine. Young adults take note.

"We've got an unusual return of the H1N1 pandemic virus," said Dr. Jeff Duchin of the Seattle- King Co Public Health Department, "which tends to slam our young working age adults and middle age adults a little bit harder than a typical flu season does."

King County has seen dozens of people hospitalized because of the flu this season. Pierce County has had at least 29 with 12 in Snohomish County.

Health professionals say it's not just a matter of preventing you from getting sick or missing school or work -- it's much more serious than that.

There have been as many as eight deaths already in the state of Washington. Five have been reported in King County, including three at Evergreen Hospital. The state health department also reports one in Thurston County and one each in Benton and Kittitas counties.

From Oregon comes word of the death of a little 5-year old boy, Ronan, on Christmas, even though he had received a shot against the flu.

"He collapsed right on the floor and turned blue on us," said the boy's mother, Colandra Burgess.

She believes antiviral medical her son could have been saved had doctors diagnosed the flu.

"It's horrible, because I miss my son," she said.

Dr. Duchin said the virus is going to be with us for the next couple of weeks to months and getting a shot now is not too late to have a big impact on your health.

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