Flu is getting an early start in the US this season

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told doctors on a conference call this week that the United States is seeing more flu than is typical for t...

Posted: Nov 16, 2019 10:52 AM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told doctors on a conference call this week that the United States is seeing more flu than is typical for this time of year.

"Influenza is off to an early start," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University who was on the CDC call, which included members of the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network, a group of hospitals that help the CDC assess the severity of the flu season.

Thirty states are seeing flu activity -- for this time of year, that's the most states in a decade. Three states, California, Louisiana and Maryland, are seeing widespread activity, while seven states are seeing regional activity: Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Texas.

That means it's more important than ever to get a flu shot now, rather than putting it off. It's not too late, as the peak of the season is still ahead.

"So far, the vaccine has been a good match to all the strains that are out there," Schaffner said.

Looking at the United States as a whole, CDC data shows more flu activity from September 29 to November 9 than in the same time period for six other flu seasons that CDC used as a comparison. Only one season in the comparison had more activity at this time of year: the unusually severe 2009 pandemic flu season that broke records.

When the flu starts early, it sometimes -- but not always -- portends a more severe season.

"An early season could be a harbinger of a severe season, and we're all a little bit worried about that," said Schaffner, a longtime advisor to the CDC. "It's a little like a train gathering steam -- if it starts early it may rumble down the tracks with more ferocity."

The Southeast has been hit particularly hard, with 12 states in the region showing flu activity.

Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Atlanta, says flu has hit so early this year that many of her patients hadn't had a chance to get a flu shot yet.

"This year, I had children testing positive for the flu in early October," said, Shu, medical editor of healthychildren.org, an American Academy of Pediatrics website. "We don't usually see flu that early in the year."

There are several strains of flu, and the predominant one so far this season is an influenza B strain. B strains tend to hit children particularly hard.

"We are seeing more influenza B than we would expect this early in the season, and influenza B is particularly a problem for children. It's a concern we're seeing this much of it this early," said Dr. Evan Anderson, associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, who was also on the CDC call this week.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1967248

Reported Deaths: 51258
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings2600639889
Queens2597329511
Suffolk1908893300
Nassau1750233097
Bronx1727466359
New York1300554297
Westchester1243172235
Erie799591683
Richmond696201739
Monroe597381032
Orange45423782
Rockland45245940
Onondaga35490659
Dutchess27510432
Albany23368343
Oneida21251497
Niagara17780332
Broome17129348
Saratoga14167160
Ulster12791241
Schenectady12252190
Rensselaer10495136
Putnam1005291
Chautauqua8227132
Chemung7052133
Oswego687690
Ontario674091
Steuben6192141
St. Lawrence612594
Sullivan598968
Cayuga579490
Jefferson539263
Wayne513967
Cattaraugus503780
Genesee5005121
Herkimer4868107
Clinton446532
Madison423885
Tompkins400349
Fulton398086
Livingston393658
Montgomery3817114
Columbia379999
Cortland350760
Warren333355
Tioga331658
Wyoming320451
Allegany313383
Otsego311846
Greene307774
Chenango301873
Washington280355
Orleans270283
Lewis242033
Franklin237012
Delaware211236
Seneca184656
Schoharie150315
Essex148526
Yates109226
Schuyler97713
Hamilton2982
Unassigned16592
Out of NY0216
Rome
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 37°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 44°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 37°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 37°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!