Flu Season Treading Lightly This Year, says Department of Health
This year’s flu season has gotten off to a much slower start than past some years, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health. By this time last year, there were thousands of people suffering from flu, but this time, flu has treaded lightly.
This year, from the start of flu season to December 19, Pennsylvania has about 492 confirmed cases of the flu, including two deaths, as per reports of the state Department of Health. The figure is just a fraction of last year’s thousands of confirmed cases in the same period.
Lehigh and Northampton counties have just 53 cases of flu by December 19. Northampton County has about 38 cases, while rests are of the Lehigh Valley. “We're really talking about a handful of cases, for all practical purposes”, said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre from St. Luke's University Health Network.
Jahre also said that it’s a welcoming change. The past few flu seasons were particularly bad, but this season has been mild by comparison, the doctor added. If the state Health Department’s records of last year’s flu season are considered, then it is found that the state had over 55,000 confirmed cases of flu, including more than 200 deaths.
What are reasons behind this year’s less number of flu cases? Experts believe that last season's flu vaccine was a poor match to the dominant flu strain. The CDC believes this year’s vaccine is much better. Some experts also expect that this year’s flu season will in February.
In a statement provided to CTV News, Flu activity tends to peak this time of year in part because holiday gatherings are the perfect venue or the virus to spread. Schabas says it’s possible that the warm weather may be a factor in why there haven’t been many flu outbreaks, since we are spending a little more time outdoors. But it could be simply that this is a quiet year for influenza.
“It’s obviously a bit early to tell but it’s quite possible we’re just not going to see a lot of flu this year,” he said, adding that flu case numbers tend to fall every four or five years anyway.
Although the flu vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone 6 months and older, “this is especially important for at-risk populations, such as young children, older adults and pregnant mothers,” Jackson said.
Family members and others in close contact with people at high risk for complication, including the elderly and those with asthma, diabetes, neurological disorders and immune-suppressed disorders, should get vaccinated to protect their loved ones, according to guidelines from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a report from The Ledger.
In other news TorontoSun reported, The federal agency’s recently released in its FluWatch report said that influenza activity increased in early December, but remains low and lab detections of the flu are “below expected levels for this time of the year.” The majority of hospitalizations from the flu have mostly affected seniors over the age of 65.
Earl G. Brown, an emeritus professor of biochemistry, microbiology and immunology at the University of Ottawa, said however, it’s hard to predict what will happen in 2016.
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