‘Tis the season, but not just for holiday celebrations. Each year, the flu ramps up in December and January, normally hitting its peak in February. This year, the number of flu cases has been elevated since the start of November–and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect that it to only get worse.
Instead of holding off until February or even into late May, the CDC reports that there is a 40% chance the flu will peak in December this year.
It is estimated that 60%-70% of patients seen for the flu this year have had the type B virus. Specifically, B/Victoria strains have been increasing. The CDC is not sure why this particular strain is dominating this year, and they do not know what that means for the rest of the season. Typically, the A strain flu is much more common.
Although it’s too early to make an assessment about the severity of the flu this season, it’s already killed over 2,400 people. From October 1st to November 30th, the virus has sent 1.2 million people to their doctors and 29,000 people ended up in the hospital.
According to the CDC, the virus is already widespread in 16 states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Symptoms typically start around the second day after infection and include chills, fever, severe muscle aches, tiredness, and a headache behind the eyes. Some people can also experience a sore throat, coughing, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Most people will recover naturally from the flu within a few weeks; however, those most vulnerable to experiencing flu complications are young children under the age of 5, pregnant women, and people with chronic health issues such as diabetes, heart and lung disease, and asthma. People over the age of 65 are also at a higher risk of experiencing complications.