Health

Why the CDC calls this flu season “unusual” as cases spread nationwide.

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The Basics

Flu activity: increasing & “elevated.”

  • Est. of *at least* 2.6M flu illnesses, 1,300 deaths, incl. 10 pediatric deaths.
  • Nearly half of all U.S. states have flu activity.
  • States with highest activity: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, & Washington.
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A Unique Season

“Activity is being caused mostly by influenza B/Victoria viruses, which is unusual for this time of year.” CDC

  • 2 dominate flu strains: Influenza A & B.
  • Both can impact any age but influenza B tends to be more common in little children & young adults.
  • Influenza B usually peaks late in the year but this year America has more B cases reported than A. No one knows why.
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Context

  • Flu activity is higher and more widespread NOW than it was last year at the same time.
  • However, hospitalization rates remain about the same compared to other recent seasons.
  • One theory why? More Americans have Influenza B strain, which more often impacts the young. Young adults tend to avoid hospitalizations more than the elderly.

 

Health

“When my kids come home from school I have them take off all of their clothes and wash their hands to their elbows and wash their faces.”

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, ER room physician and author of “Mom Hacks” with one way she tries to keep her two children healthy during flu season. She says often the flu vaccine will be more effective against Influenza B strains, because other strains tend to mutate rapidly, making effective immunizations especially challenging.
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According to CDC forecasting it is more likely the flu will peak in late December instead of January or February. Is this year's vaccine a good "fit" for this year's flu? We'll know in coming weeks. Doctors say early indications point to "yes" but we won't know for sure until AFTER flu season.

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