The Arizona Department of Health Services released data Wednesday saying flu cases continue to rise statewide.
According to ADHS, 11,515 flu cases have been reported this season. From December 31, 2017, to January 6, 2018, 2,455 cases were reported. During the 2016-2017 flu season 1,109 total cases were reported.
ADHS says hospitals statewide are experiencing long emergency wait times. The department is advising people to only seek emergency care if they are "at high risk for serious complications or are experiencing severe symptoms."
According to ADHS, people at high risk for serious complications include children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, people with chronic disease, anyone with immunosuppression, pregnant women or new moms within two weeks after delivery, anyone younger than 19 receiving long-term aspirin therapy, American Indians or Alaska natives, people with extreme obesity, and those living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
“If you’re at high risk or have symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, confusion, persistent vomiting, cannot drink fluids, or have flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever or worse cough, seek emergency medical care immediately,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of ADHS, said in a release.
Dr. Christ said the department expects cases to "significantly increase" as kids return to school after winter break.
“Parents should make sure their kids are vaccinated and keep them home from school if they have flu-like illness or symptoms," Dr. Christ said. "Due to the severity of this year’s influenza season, it is critical that everyone is taking precautions to prevent the spread."
ADHS said getting vaccinated against the flu is the "most effective way" to protect yourself.
For more information, visit azhealth.gov/flu.