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Michigan prepares for post-holiday flu surge

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Posted at 3:57 PM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 17:25:23-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — According to the CDC’s latest weekly update, flu activity levels in Michigan were high for two weeks in a row. That’s not surprising as most of the U.S. is experiencing high or very high flu and flu-like illnesses.

Mostly, because the majority of people have returned to living life as it was pre-pandemic. And there were people experiencing mild symptoms who didn’t always want to stay home and isolate during the holidays. With fewer masks and less social distancing, parties and gatherings gave respiratory illnesses plenty of room to spread.

But the good news is that our numbers are not skyrocketing. However, that may change as more people travel home, return to the office, and students head back to the classroom following the holiday break.

We’re seeing a lot more strep throat. Strep is short for Streptococcus, a type of bacteria. There are several types but right now, we’re seeing a lot of group A.

The infection can make your throat feel very sore and scratchy. And many people have pain when swallowing. Currently, the CDC is looking into an increase in what’s called invasive group A strep infections among children.

It can trigger the following:
- pneumonia
- skin infections like cellulitis or necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease and
- Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, that’s an immune reaction that can lead to organ failure

The condition is rare and the overall number of invasive group A strep infections among children remains low.

Antibiotics can help. If they’re taken within 48 hours of symptoms starting, they’ll not only reduce the length and severity of symptoms - as well as the risk of complications - but they can also prevent strep throat from spreading to others.

In addition to strep, we’re also seeing more COVID-19. Omicron’s offshoot XBB.1.5 has taken off with great speed and is now responsible for 40.5% of cases.

Research shows it’s the slipperiest of all Omicron’s subvariants to date and has the potential to escape vaccination and past infection protection. But so far, it doesn’t appear to cause more severe disease than any other omicron variant.

People aged 65 and older are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and are more likely to be hospitalized or die. It’s important to be vaccinated with the bivalent vaccine and also to get the flu vaccine. These vaccines are available to everyone over the age of 6 months. It is recommended that those who are eligible to get them. As these vaccines significantly reduce hospitalizations and death.