(WXYZ) — Health officials report flu cases are soaring in seven US states, with numbers rising in other regions. Flu season historically ramps up in December or January, but once again, it’s taking off much earlier.
Activity is increasing rapidly in the country's southeastern, south-central, and southwestern regions. As for the seven states that are currently reporting high or very high levels, they are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Carolina.
Also, elevated levels were seen in the District of Columbia and in the territory that recently declared a flu epidemic - Puerto Rico.
Regarding Michigan, the CDC’s map shows minimal flu activity levels in our state. And looking at the latest “Michigan Disease Surveillance System” report, it shows a gradual rise in influenza cases. But with Thanksgiving just days away, I expect we’ll soon see a bigger uptick in numbers as family and friends travel and gather for the traditional turkey meal.
This year's dominant flu virus is Influenza type A, specifically H1N1, with some Influenza B also in circulation. The good news is that Influenza type A is generally milder for our senior population, who are typically hit hardest by the flu. However, the CDC estimates that this season has already seen around 780,000 flu cases, over 8,000 hospitalizations, and 490 flu-related deaths, including a child.
It’s important to remember that there are other strains out there that can seriously affect people of any age. That’s why everyone aged six months and older is advised to get the flu shot, as recommended by the CDC recommends. Currently, only about 35% of adults and 33% of children in the US have received their influenza vaccination.
As for how effective the flu shot will be, we can’t say for certain but it is well-matched to the strains currently circulating, and therefore, it should be effective in preventing infection or at least serious illness.
And with the upcoming holiday season quickly approaching, it’s best to get a flu shot soon, as the virus likes to spread during this time of the year.