With parts of the United States colder than Mars and sharks are literally freezing to death, it should surprise no one that there is a widespread flu outbreak happening right now. The CDC reported that 36 states have reported widespread influenza activity, which is earlier than usual flu outbreaks. Peak flu activity in the United States usually goes down around February, but it is already here to make your life miserable.
Scientists believe that the cold weather and low effectiveness in this year’s flu vaccine are factors in the early spread of influenza. As of last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 21 of those states affected show a high number of cases. The strain H3N2 is responsible for the most of the deadly cases reported this season.
“It’s just one of those years where the CDC is seeing that this strain of flu is only somewhat covered by the vaccine that was given this year,” Jennifer Radtke, manager for infection prevention at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville told USA Today. “They’re seeing that it’s anywhere from 10% to 33% effective, so any time there’s a mismatch between the vaccine and the circulating strain of the flu, you’re going to see more cases.” Epidemiologists say it is still too soon to determine how bad the flu season will be this year.
The CDC reported which states were susceptible to Influenza-like illness (ILI) this past week:
- 21 states experienced high activity (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia).
- 5 states experienced moderate ILI activity (Colorado, Hawaii, New York, North Dakota, and Virginia).
- 8 states experienced low ILI activity (Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming).
- 14 states experienced minimal ILI activity (Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin).
- Data was insufficient to calculate an ILI activity level from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and two states (Connecticut and North Carolina).
According to the CDC, the flu has caused between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses in the U.S. each year since 2010. Of those infected, between 140,000 and 710,000 people end up being hospitalized, and there are between 12,000 and 56,000 flu-caused deaths each year. This flu season, 30 people have been reportedly died from the flu. At least 11 people younger than 65-years-old have died in California, there were 12 deaths in North Carolina, and South Carolina had seven. Looks like it’s time to invest in some Cold-Eeze lozenges and chow down on zinc-nutrient foods such as lamb, oysters, and spinach.