Flu season has just begun, but cases of influenza continue to rise. The southeast is being hit particularly hard. States reporting high levels of influenza-like illness include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Other states that are beginning to see an increase in cases include Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Fewer people have received flu shots in 2023 than in some previous years. Experts predict, however, that the vaccine is a good match for the H1N1 influenza A strain that is currently circulating. Given the holiday travel, cases are likely to soar in coming weeks. Is there influenza in your town or county?
What the Flu Season Looks Like So Far:
Last year, the flu season started with a predominance of influenza type B/Victoria. That was 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 currently type A strains of influenza on the move. The one that predominates at this time is H1N1. There are also some cases of H3N2. 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.
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).