York is one of 15 counties in the state with more than 275 reported flu cases this season, but cases have now been reported in every county.

A total of 350 cases of the flu were reported in York so far this season, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

York Hospital was at maximum census on Tuesday and had a high census on Wednesday, said Barry Sparks, spokesman for WellSpan Health.

"We are seeing a large volume of patients with flu-like symptoms in our Emergency Department and Medical Group practices," Sparks said.

"We have seen a much higher volume at this point of the season than in the past five to six years," he said.

Last year was a relatively mild flu season, Sparks said.

At Memorial Hospital, some flu cases are requiring hospitalizations, and others are being treated and released through the Emergency Department, said spokeswoman Josette Myers.

Flu season does not peak until mid-January or February, so there is still time to get vaccinated, said Myers.

Nursing home caution: Nursing homes are taking extra precautions to care for their residents.

At Misericordia Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 998 South Russell Street, members of the nursing staff are required to wear masks, said Marion Bittner, administrator.

They have 50 residents and have not had any flu cases yet, but are being extra careful since the flu season seems to be worse in York this year, Bittner said.

They also request that anyone who is ill not visit the nursing home, Bittner said.

Last week 18 flu-related deaths were reported in Pennsylvania, bringing the total to 22 flu-related deaths reported for the season. Two of those deaths involved otherwise healthy individuals younger than 50.

Flu-related hospitalizations rose from 244 to 487 in the state last week, and altogether there have been 971 hospitalizations this flu season, with an average patient age of 67, according to the Department of Health.

Influenza activity is "widespread" across the state, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The state flu activity status ranges from no activity, based on laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, all the way to widespread (the current status), which is the highest ranking and is categorized by outbreaks of influenza in at least half the regions of the state.

- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or cshank@yorkdispatch.com