The Yakima Health District has confirmed the season’s first influenza-

related death in Yakima County, according to a news release. The district identified the deceased as an adult who had preexisting medical conditions. Statewide, at least six people have died from the flu so far this season.

The district said it’s seeing an increase in hospital visits and school absences related to flu, and that this year’s flu season is starting earlier than in recent years. Yakima County started seeing a spike in positive flu tests starting in early November. Last year that spike started in the middle of December with a second wave of infections reported in February, and in the 2017-18 flu season infections peaked in January.

“We’re definitely peaking earlier this year than usual,” district spokesman Nathan Johnson said, but he stressed it’s not too late to get this year’s flu shot. Vaccinations help protect the community, especially children, pregnant women, those 65 and older and people who are medically fragile.

Everyone can reduce the spread of illness by frequently washing their hands, covering their cough and staying home when they are sick, the health district said.

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