(WXYZ) — Health officials report flu cases are skyrocketing in seven U.S. states, with numbers increasing in other areas. Flu season usually peaks in December or January, but again, it starts much earlier.
Activity is increasing rapidly in the southeast, south-central and southwest regions of the country. As for the seven states currently reporting high or very high levels, they are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and South Carolina.
High levels were also observed in the District of Columbia and the territory that recently declared a flu outbreak – Puerto Rico.
Regarding Michigan, the CDC map shows minimal levels of flu activity in our state. And if we look at the latest report from the Michigan Disease Surveillance System, it shows a gradual increase in flu cases. But with Thanksgiving just days away, I expect we’ll soon see a larger surge in numbers, as family and friends travel and gather for the traditional turkey meal.
The dominant influenza virus this year is the influenza type A virus, more specifically the H1N1 virus, with some influenza B virus also in circulation. The good news is that type A flu is generally milder in older people, who are usually hit hardest by the flu. However, the CDC estimates that this season has already seen about 780,000 flu cases, more than 8,000 hospitalizations and 490 flu-related deaths, including one child.
It’s important to remember that there are other strains that can seriously affect people of any age. That’s why everyone six months and older is advised to get a flu vaccine, as recommended by the CDC. Currently, in the United States, only about 35% of adults and 33% of children have been vaccinated against the flu.
As for the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, we cannot say for sure, but it is well suited to the strains currently circulating and, therefore, should be effective in preventing infection or at least serious illness .
And with the holiday season approaching, it’s best to get your flu shot early, as the virus likes to spread this time of year.
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