Influenza B has been causing severe illnesses in many areas of the country.
Flu activity is at an all-time high for the current season, despite a dip in activity last week, according to the latest report from the CDC,. Officials have said that the temporary decline may reflect the holiday in the first week of the year, since many people are not visiting a doctor, and children are not in schools. 1
The A strain of influenza typically dominates during the early months of flu season, with the B strain of the virus showing up towards the end. However, Influenza B has been causing severe illnesses in many areas of the country. This is the first instance in almost 3 decades that an influenza B strain has been the dominant circulating flu virus in the United States.1
In addition, flu activity started earlier than usual this year, with cases being reported as early as July. 1
Five pediatric deaths were reported for the week ending January 4, for a total of 32 pediatric deaths since the beginning of the current flu season. 2
Across all age groups, the number of flu deaths and hospitalizations have been relatively low, compared with previous seasons. The majority of people who end up critically ill from the flu are in the elderly population; this group has not been affected as severely by this season’s strains, according to CDC reports. 2
The CDC urges the public to receive their annual influenza vaccination, and to remember that it is not too late to be immunized for the 2019-2020 flu season. Anyone hospitalized with influenza or outpatients with influenza who are at risk for complications should seek antiviral treatment. 3