The U.S. flu season has arrived on schedule after taking a yr off, with flu hospitalizations rising and two baby deaths reported.
Final yr’s flu season was the bottom on file, doubtless as a result of COVID-19 measures — college closures, distancing, masks and canceled journey — prevented the unfold of influenza, or as a result of the coronavirus one way or the other pushed apart different viruses.
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“That is setting itself as much as be extra of a traditional flu season,” mentioned Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like diseases for the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
The childhood deaths, Brammer mentioned, are “sadly what we might count on when flu exercise picks up. It’s a tragic reminder of how extreme flu could be.”
Throughout final yr’s unusually gentle flu season, one baby died. In distinction, 199 kids died from flu two years in the past, and 144 the yr earlier than that.
Within the latest knowledge, essentially the most intense flu exercise was within the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and the variety of states with excessive flu exercise rose from three to seven. In CDC figures launched Monday, states with excessive flu exercise are New Mexico, Kansas, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia and North Dakota.
The kind of virus circulating this yr tends to trigger the biggest quantity of extreme illness, particularly within the aged and the very younger, Brammer mentioned.
Final yr’s break from the flu made it tougher to plan for this yr’s flu vaccine. To date, it seems like what’s circulating is in a barely completely different subgroup from what the vaccine targets, however it’s “actually too early to know” whether or not that can blunt the vaccine’s effectiveness, Brammer mentioned.
“We’ll should see what the influence of those little adjustments” shall be, Brammer mentioned. “Flu vaccine is your finest technique to shield your self in opposition to flu.”
There are early indicators that fewer persons are getting flu photographs in contrast with final yr. With hospitals already stretched by COVID-19, it’s extra necessary than ever to get a flu shot and take different precautions, Brammer mentioned.
“Cowl your cough. Wash your arms. Keep residence in case you’re sick,” Brammer mentioned. “If you happen to do get flu, there are antivirals you possibly can discuss to your physician about that may stop extreme sickness and allow you to keep out of the hospital.”
The Related Press Well being & Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.