Flu season began early in the US, but it shows no sign of fading. Influenza continues to spread around the country. Is there influenza in your town or county?
What the Flu Season Looks Like So Far:
Initially, the flu season started with a predominance of influenza type B/Victoria. This year’s flu shot doesn’t appear to be very effective against that strain. Having type B flu early in the year is unusual, since most years the flu season begins with type A influenza infections, with type B showing up later, as we approach springtime.
Is There Influenza Near You?
There are also type A strains of influenza on the move. The one that predominates is H1N1, but H3N2 is also gaining in prevalence. It remains unclear how well this year’s vaccine will protect against these viral strains. What is clear is that very likely there are cases of influenza somewhere in your vicinity. As of January 25, 2020, 49 states and Puerto Rico were reporting widespread influenza activity. Hawaii reported regional activity, and flu activity was local in the District of Columbia.
The CDC estimates that there have been 19 million cases of flu this year, with 180,000 hospitalizations and approximately 10,000 deaths. The hospitalization rate, 29.7 per 100,000 population, is in line with the rates from previous years. Those who are most likely to be hospitalized due to influenza are the elderly and young children up to four years old.
Flu Bugs Are Susceptible to Flu Drugs This Year:
Public health officials point out that this year’s flu strains are susceptible to antiviral medications that doctors can prescribe at the first signs of infection. Those include oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), zanamivir (Relenza) and baloxavir (Xofluza).