Influenza resurfaces in the US after a year of rest

The flu season arrived in the United States on time after taking a year off, bringing with it an increase in the number of hospitalizations and the death of two children.

Last year, the flu season was the lowest on record, probably due to the prevention measures for COVID-19 – school closings, distancing, wearing masks and cancellation of trips – prevented the spread of influenza, or perhaps because the coronavirus somehow marginalized other viruses.

“This is turning into a normal flu season,” said Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Infant deaths, Brammer said, are “unfortunately what you would expect when influenza activity increases. It is a sad reminder of how serious this disease can be. “

During last year’s flu season, which was unusually mild, a child died. ANDInstead, 199 children died of the flu two years ago, and 144 the year before that.

In the most recent data, the most intense flu activity was recorded in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, and the number of states with a high flu presence increased from three to seven. According to CDC figures released Monday, the states with the highest flu rates are New Mexico, Kansas, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia and North Dakota.

The type of virus that circulates this year tends to cause a greater number of serious cases, especially in the elderly and the very young, Brammer said.

Last year’s flu pause made it more difficult to plan for the flu vaccine this year. So far, everything indicates that what is circulating is in a slightly different subgroup than the one the vaccine is targeting, but it is “really too early to know” if that will decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine, the epidemiologist added.

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“We will have to see what the impact of these small changes is,” Brammer said. “The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against it.”

Early signs are that fewer people are getting the flu vaccine compared to last year. Now that hospitals are already saturated with COVID-19 cases, it’s more important to get a flu shot and take other precautions, Brammer noted.

“Cover yourself when you cough. Wash your hands. Stay home if you are sick ”, added the specialist. “If you do get the flu, there are antivirals you can talk about with your doctor that can prevent serious illness and protect you from not needing to go to a hospital.”

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