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First case of seasonal flu identified in Lancaster County

Lancaster County has identified its first confirmed case of influenza for the 2020-2021 flu...
Lancaster County has identified its first confirmed case of influenza for the 2020-2021 flu season.(AP)
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 4:48 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lancaster County started seasonal influenza surveillance on October 1 and confirmed to 10/11 NOW, it’s identified one case of influenza. Right now, surveillance is showing “very little” flu activity in the county, according to the health department.

That’s similar to the 2019-2020 flu season, which also saw one confirmed case at this time of the year, before numbers started ticking up in November. Last year’s flu season peaked between mid-December and mid-January, with the highest week being the week ending December 28, when more than 230 cases were identified.

10/11 NOW requested several years of influenza data from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, which said it’s seen 5,919 lab-confirmed cases of either Influenza A or Influenza B during the last five seasons.

Flu SeasonConfirmed Cases
2015-2016465
2016-20171,104
2017-20181,431
2018-20191,205
2019-20201,714
Total5,919
Average1,184

According to charts available on the city’s website, the health department stopped seasonal surveillance the week ending April 25, 2020, after the last lab-confirmed cases were identified during the week ending March 28, 2020.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department also released data on flu-related deaths dating back to 2005. It shows in eight of the last 14 years, the number of flu-related deaths was five or fewer. The peak was in 2015 and 2018, when LLCHD identified 14 cases of flu-related deaths. If the number was less than five, the specific number wasn’t listed in the data provided by LLCHD, however, it was counted toward the total.

YearFlu Related Deaths
2005<=5
2006<=5
20070
20086
2009<=5
20100
2011<=5
2012<=5
2013<=5
2014<=5
201514
2016<=5
201710
201814
20197
Total74
Average4.9

**<=5 indicates small numbers. According to LLCHD, 2019 data still being confirmed

According to the information provided by LLCHD, there were 74 confirmed flu-related deaths in Lancaster County over a 15-year stretch from 2005-2019 or about five per year.

For comparison, as of October 26, Lancaster County has identified 8,979 cases of COVID-19 and 43 COVID-19 related fatalities. The first such case was identified in mid-March. The first COVID-19 related fatality was in early April.

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