‘Historically’ low influenza activity reported in US this year
While the flu season is far from over, and influenza cases have been reported year round in the United States in the past, in a typical year, influenza cases would likely increase during the year. fall and winter, peaking in February. Not this year. “We haven’t detected any flu outbreaks or anything really, it’s just historically low,” Lynette Brammer, who heads the National Influenza Team for the Centers for Disease Control, told AccuWeather. and Prevention (CDC). Brammer’s team tracks flu cases every year in their weekly report, Flu View. In the graph below, the CDC compares influenza cases over the past several years, and influenza in the 2020-2021 season, shown in the red line with black triangles, is almost non-existent. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) “We are testing the flu very hard,” Brammer told AccuWeather. “We just can’t find it.” In fact, many people have reported not experiencing any symptoms of the flu or the common cold. Brammer said the absence of the flu is not only good news for individual health, but given the number of people hospitalized with the flu each year, it’s a huge break for hospitals inundated with COVID-patients. 19. Same. And my son didn’t catch the typical winter colds he usually gets at this rate. Strike wood, anyway. But it looks like the daycare as a whole is healthier. – Phoebe (@phoebeplagens) January 24, 2021 “Considering the current situation this is a very good thing. You know hospitals have been overwhelmed in a lot of cases, and you don’t want to add the flu on top of that Brammer said. According to the CDC, some 173 people were hospitalized with the flu between Oct. 1 and Feb. 13. This is below rates for any season since routine data collection began. in the 1990s. In comparison, 400,000 people were hospitalized with influenza and 22,000 died, including 434 children, during the entire 2019-20 season. There has been only one pediatric influenza death reported this season. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Flu View activity maps are significantly different for the week ending February 13, 2020, compared to the same time period in 2021. All states are reporting minimum activity this year. last year at this time, most rt of States reported high to very high activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza map for the week ending February 13, 2021. (CDC) The change does not surprise Dr. Bryan Lewis, an epidemiologist at the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia. “The flu has just been completely interrupted by people wearing masks, staying at home, the reduced number of children in schools, etc., and I think a lot of people have also received the flu shot. “Lewis said. “And so all of those forces combined really stopped the flu in its tracks.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu map for the week ending February 15, 2020. (CDC) Does the low number of flu cases this season mean next season could be more complicated? Brammer says it will be interesting to see what happens. “By the age of 5, most people have seen the flu. Everyone has influenza antibodies, so I don’t think having, basically, a year with very little influenza circulation would have a huge impact on the population ”. she said. “But I think seeing how the flu comes back is going to be really interesting.” The flu season usually starts in October and lasts until March, although the activity can last until May. Influenza viruses are more stable in cold air, and low humidity allows viral particles to stay in the air, according to Peter Palese, who was the lead author of a key flu study in 2007. So that the flu has apparently been defeated this year. Lewis warns that doesn’t mean people should stop being extra vigilant, and he urges everyone to get the flu shot, keep washing their hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask. “The groundwork is ripe for transmission, so anything we can do to keep influenza and COVID at bay is going to benefit everyone’s health,” Lewis said. Check back regularly to AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather network on DirecTV, Frontier, Spectrum, Fubo and Verizon Fios.