CDC Update on Flu Activity
This year’s flu season is already the most widespread on record since health officials began keeping track 13 years ago, and has already caused the most hospitalizations in nearly a decade, federal health officials have said. During the fourth week of January, flu resulted in the deaths of another 16 children, bringing the total pediatric deaths so far this season to at least 53.
During the fourth week of January, more people also sought care for flu-like illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent weekly report shows. Officials say this season has been unusual because flu has slammed virtually the entire continental United States at the same time, and that intensity has continued for several consecutive weeks, (Washington Post).
Why is this year different than past flu seasons?
This season, the predominant strain is also the nastiest, H3N2, which causes the worst outbreaks of the two influenza A viruses and two types of influenza B viruses that circulate among people and are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year. As top CDC flu expert Daniel Jernigan said: “Of the viruses we hate, we hate H3N2 more than the other ones.” This strain, which has been around for 50 years, is able to change more quickly to get around the human body’s immune system than the other viruses targeted in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine. The CDC estimates that flu has resulted between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths each year in the United States since 2010, (CDC).
How to best avoid catching the flu
- Get vaccinated! Flu vaccines are now available to all students at all Student Health Clinic locations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for $5. No appointment necessary.
- Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. If experiencing flu-like illness, CDC recommends that staying home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care.
- Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Disinfect common areas. Clean and disinfect common surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu, such as dorm rooms and communal living areas.