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Flu, Pneumonia Deaths Spike In Maricopa County

Influenza virus particles
Influenza virus particles.

Adult deaths in Maricopa County from influenza are up more than 300 percent from this time a year ago, and county health officials say it’s unclear why this flu season is much worse than others.

At least 43 adults have died from the flu since October. The number jumps to 703 if people who died from flu and pneumonia are included.

“We know that the strain that is predominant this year is the same strain that caused our pandemic back in 2009,” said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Records show flu and pneumonia killed 519 people in 2009.

With about five weeks left in the peak of this flu season, the 43 adults killed by the virus in Maricopa County has surpassed total deaths for the entire previous season, which was 12.

Most flu deaths could be eliminated if more people got vaccinated, England said.

“An average year, we’ll lose a couple hundred people here,” he said. “What I think we’re looking at this year is maybe a few times that, before we’re done.”

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.