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Health Officials Predict Flu Season Could Last Until May

MAR 22, 2017 | EINAV KEET
Despite the overall decline in national flu activity, flu season is hitting late peaks in some parts of the United States; in fact, health officials around the country are predicting that some areas will experience a longer-lasting flu season than usual this year.

As widespread flu activity continues its decline in the United States, it has now been reported in 36 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the number of states reporting cases have dropped since last week’s FluView report, where the agency noted widespread flu activity in 39 states, some southern and southeastern areas in the United States are still experiencing high flu activity. According to the CDC’s new weekly flu report, the states that are currently experiencing high influenza-like illness activity include: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.

While much of the 2016-2017 flu season has been marked by the predominance of the influenza A (H3N2) strain of the virus, new flu surveillance reports show an uptick in illnesses caused by influenza B. In fact, the new report coming in from the CDC shows that 61% of specimens tested positive for influenza A and nearly 39% tested positive for influenza B. Despite the misconception that influenza B viruses cause milder infections, both influenza A and influenza B viruses can cause severe illness that may even result in death.

Recently, parts of Georgia have experienced widespread flu outbreaks. The spike in flu cases has affected many schools in southern Georgia, which have reported an uptick in illness among students that has led to the absence of over 10% of the student population in the Southwest Health District. School health officials are urging parents to keep their children that have fallen ill home until they are no longer contagious, and are emphasizing the importance of handwashing to prevent spreading the flu to healthy students. Georgia’s Department of Public Health has seen its influenza-like illness intensity indicator remain high for several weeks, though dispersion of the flu has dropped from widespread to regional.

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