An Outbreak of a More Severe Strain of the Flu Could Last Until May

At the first sign of cool fall weather, we prepare ourselves for flu season and other illnesses. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have made it through unscathed up to this point in 2019, that’s great. But don’t get comfy yet.

Yes, we are heading into spring, but flu season is still in full swing and according to the CDC, can extend into May. Although this year is milder than the deadly 2017-2018 season, there are multiple strains going around including one that is much more difficult to diagnose. The only symptom is a fever.

Typically, cases of the flu will experience a small dip and then stay steady until they taper off. This year, the CDC notes that while there was a spike before Christmas and a decline not too long after, February has seen another peak in reported diagnoses and hospital stays.

In some cases, treatment is unsuccessful, resulting in death. The CDC’s latest stats for influenza cases in the country recorded elevated incidences of H1N1 (swine flu), as well as strains of influenza B and H3. What doctors are recommending is to get a flu shot even if you believe it is too late.

It is possible for you to mitigate the effects of the illness if you get a shot, even if it is now. The CDC’s map of flu activity levels shows that the areas in “red” with the highest numbers are the Midwest, South, and Southwest. Alaska is also experiencing a jump.

Everyone is at risk regardless of age, but those who are most susceptible are young children, elderly adults, and people with compromised immune systems. Health professionals state that even though the flu vaccine is created for certain strains, the best way to prevent yourself from getting sick is to get immunized.

Here are some other ways you can protect yourself:

  • Avoid those who are ill.
  • Wash your hands as often as possible, especially when in close contact with people – whether they are infected or not.
  • Cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough.
  • Sanitize areas that have come into contact with germs.

If you get sick, start on a protocol of antiviral medications to combat and shorten the duration of the flu.

Still, even with the mutations circulating this year, so far, the vaccine’s protection has worked well, especially for kids age 6 and over. It’s had an 60% efficacy rate. Watch out for symptoms such as fever, chills, sore throat, body aches, and headache with the flu. If you or your child are being treated for another medical condition like asthma, seek medical attention immediately.

Remember, not all cases of the flu will require a doctor’s treatment, but the only way to confirm whether you have it is with a test. If you suspect it, get checked. Click below to hear more about the recent spike in flu cases and what you can do to prevent an infection.

Have you had the flu this season and were you expecting a second spike? Were you infected with a strain that required medical care? Did the flu shot help you this year?

Sources:

AJC

Vox