This flu season may be particularly bad, thanks to a strain of influenza known as H3N2. As of mid-December, more than 100 people had died from influenza in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Several states are reporting higher-than-average flu-related hospitalizations as well (“What You Need To Know About This Year’s Flu Season,” 2018).
So what can you do to prevent the illness? And how long is it expected to be prevalent? Let’s take a look at some of the key facts about H3N2 and all there is to know about this flu season.
1. H3N2 Has Been Around Before, and It’s Been Deadly.
H3N2 has been around before – between 2003 and 2013, three flu seasons were previously dominated by the virus. In addition, these three seasons had the highest mortality rates (“Some Bad Flu News: H3N2 Is A Major Player This Year,” 2018).
2. The South is Seeing a Boom.
The southern region of the U.S. has been seeing the most flu activity thus far. States including Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana and California are all seeing high rates of the flu. The CDC reports that the majority of children who are dying from the virus are not vaccinated, highlighting the importance of early vaccination.
3. Flu Season Peaks Between December and February.
Right now is the peak time for contamination, according to the CDC (“The Flu Season,” 2018). Between the 1982 and 2015 seasons, February was consistently the top month for influenza in the U.S.
4. The Vaccine May Only Be 10 Percent Effective.
This year’s flu vaccine may only be 10 percent effective against the most common strain of the illness. However, U.S. flu experts claim they will not know exactly how effective the vaccine was until the season wraps up. Furthermore, they still encourage the public to get it – the vaccine may ease flu symptoms, in the event that you come down with the ailment.
5. Take Preventative Measures into Account.
Wash your hands frequently to reduce your chances of contracting the flu. Make it a point to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes as well. In the event that you come down with the illness, stay home from school or work to prevent contaminating others. Wearing a mask may help you stop from spreading the virus in public.
“The Flu Season.” Retrieved January 15, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm.
LeMieux, Julianna. “Some Bad Flu News: H3N2 is a Major Player this Year.” Retrieved January 15, 2018 from https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/01/02/some-bad-flu-news-h3n2-major-player-year-12350.
Ostrov, Barbara Feder. “What You Need to Know About This Year’s Flu Season.” Retrieved January 15, 2018 at https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/01/09/576772534/facing-down-flu-5-things-to-know-now.