By the end of 2018, influenza activity was heavy around the country. This year, the predominant strain of influenza virus causing infection was H1N1. It caused less severe illness and fewer hospitalizations than the H3N2 strain that circulated last year (2017-18). But although flu season should be winding down, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning about a second wave of flu.
Where Is the Second Wave of Flu?
Earlier this year, tests showed that the most common strain of flu virus was H1N1. Almost 70 percent of the tests to date identified that strain.
Now, however, the H3N2 strain is becoming more common. In March 2019, about 60 percent of the influenza tests revealed H3N2. That is the same strain that caused such a terrible flu season last year. The southeastern states are being hit especially hard with this second wave of flu.
Avoiding the Flu:
Both strains are covered in this year’s flu vaccine, and experts report that the flu shot reduced the number of cases that needed medical attention by 47 percent. With a second wave of flu underway, it’s still not too late to request a vaccination. It does take about two weeks before the vaccine results in a good immune response, however.
Fortunately, there is a new antiviral medicine on the market. Xofluza is a one-dose flu treatment that can shorten the duration of flu symptoms if taken within 48 hours of influenza onset. It is pricey, though. One pill of baloxavir (the generic name for Xofluza) can cost over $160.
An older oral antiviral medicine, Tamiflu, is now available in generic form as oseltamivir. With a coupon, it costs about one third as much as Xofluza.
Don’t Share the Flu Virus:
If you come down with symptoms of fever, cough, congestion and muscle aches, stay home so you don’t spread the germs around. Herbs to strengthen the immune system such as Andrographis or Astragalus may help prevent infection. Medicinal mushrooms may also boost the immune response to help you ward off the second wave of flu.