Flu Season is Here, and It’s Off to a Strange Start
The latest CDC data shows that flu season is in full swing, and about half the country has high or moderate flu activity.
This year’s flu season has been a little out of the ordinary, for a few reasons. For one, it’s arrived early—there are now 12 U.S. states reporting high levels of flu activity (mostly in the South) and 15 states reporting moderate activity, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
At this time last year, just two states had reported high levels of flu activity and three states reported moderate activity. One tweet from the CDC Flu shows the latest report of flu cases around the country:
The other odd part to this year’s flu cases involve an unusual strain called influenza B. According to one article, this is unusual given the fact that flu season usually starts with influenza A strains (H1N1 and H3N2) predominating while the season end with strains of influenza B in the spring.
“Generally, we see [influenza B] toward the tail end of the season,” Dr. Bernhard Wiedermann, an infectious disease specialist at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., said. A flu season that starts with influenza B has not been seen in the last 15 years that the CDC has been collecting this type of data, reported Healio, a news site for health care professionals.
The CDC estimates for this season’s flu are already notable. It estimates that this year’s flu season has seen at least 1.7 million illnesses, 16,000 hospitalizations, and 910 deaths.
But don’t worry too much yet. It’s not too late to get your flu shot, the CDC said. Quadrivalent flu vaccines protect against two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B. Flu shots are recommended for everyone aged six months and older.
For more information on the flu, different vaccine options, and this year’s predictions, visit OH&S’s article on the topic, The 2019 Flu Vaccine: Updated and Important for All.