Just when we believed that this winter could be influenza-free, the flu season strikes. More and more doctor visits are made because of flu symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.1 percent of those who showed up to the doctor were affected by the flu.
Influenza is no joke, and last flu season almost 80,000 Americans died. “Last year was a record bad year. Our mortality estimate was one of the highest, if not the highest, we’ve seen,” said Lynnette Brammer, head of the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team.
This time it appears that the southern U.S. has been affected the hardest. The numbers are going up. “We know right now we are going up, we just don’t know when it will start coming back down,” added Brammer.
There is still hope
Compared to the devastating last season, it appears that this season might not be as bad. Doctors noticed that it is developing slowly, which is a good sign. In addition to that, the dominant strain is H1N1. The good news is that this particular strain isn’t as likely to affect the elderly, and it is also more vulnerable to vaccination.
Last year the H3N2 strain was the dominant one. “It wasn’t that it was a particularly bad virus that if you got it you were more likely to die than in previous years. There were just a lot more cases,” Brammer said of last season. “When you have a lot more people get sick, you have more people who are hospitalized and more people who die.”
Brammer reminds us that it is very important to get vaccinated in order to stay safe: “The main thing right now is to get vaccinated. There is still plenty of flu season to come.”