GILLETTE — As of Dec. 10-16 — the most recent week for which data is available — there were 598 cases of influenza across the state, 40 of which were in Campbell County, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. This is 177 more cases statewide than there were during the preceding week, Dec. 3-9.

So far this year, Campbell County hasn’t been hit as hard as other parts of the state, with four counties reporting more flu cases. Those are Natrona County with 142 cases, Uinta County with 101 cases, Sweetwater County with 99 cases and Laramie County with 66 cases.

Flu season started early this year, first cropping up in Campbell County in September. The number of people with the flu has risen every week since.

Last year, the Department of Health first reported the flu in early December and didn’t see it reach the current level of about 600 cases statewide until mid-January. By the end of the flu season in late May, there were 5,049 cases statewide, 935 of which were in Campbell County, making it the hardest hit area in the state.

The numbers that the Department of Health reports are likely lower than the disease’s actual prevalence because many people don’t go to the doctor for an official diagnosis.

Past Department of Health data shows that there is often a dip in flu cases between Christmas and New Year’s likely because kids aren’t attending school and fewer people are going to work.

The vaccine is a good match for the influenza strains doctors have seen so far this flu season, according to the Department of Health.

Neighboring Colorado has seen a particularly bad flu season. So far, 566 people have been hospitalized with the flu, compared to 150 typically recorded by mid-December, according to The Associated Press. The cause for the high number of hospitalizations is unclear.

Flu season is expected to peak in the next couple of months.

Even though flu season has started, vaccines can still prevent the spread of the disease because the season can run through May and the vaccine takes only two weeks to become effective.

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