Normal for flu seasons to reach epidemic status

Normal for flu seasons to reach epidemic status

Flu season typically picks up in winter in the US But this year, health officials said the country “crossed the epidemic threshold” for the flu in early November.

flu season is off to an unusually fast start this year. In the United States, flu season typically picks up in December or January, but flu reports they are already increasing in at least 17 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On November 4, federal public health officials said during a Press conference that the United States has already “crossed the epidemic threshold” for the flu.

“We are seeing more cases than we would expect right now,” José Romero, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters.

Recent online searches show an increase in people wondering if it is normal for the flu to reach epidemic status.

THE QUESTION

Is it normal for flu seasons to reach epidemic status?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, it is normal for flu seasons to reach epidemic status.

WHAT WE FOUND

Seasonal flu epidemics occur nearly every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO). That’s because the CDC defines a epidemic as “an unexpected increase in the number of cases of illness in a specific geographic area” compared to cases in previous years.

Influenza (the flu) It is a contagious respiratory disease caused by two types of flu viruses — influenza A and B — which infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Influenza viruses are spread primarily from person to person through droplets that form when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks near another person.

“Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of illness (known as flu season) nearly every winter in the United States,” the CDC says in its website.

in a article for Verywell Health medical websiteEpidemiologist Kristina Duda, RN, also says that “seasonal flu epidemics occur almost every year.”

“Although the word ‘epidemic’ sounds scary, it is not uncommon for the flu to reach epidemic levels,” Duda said.

To classify the severity of the flu, each week the CDC compare the number of flu cases on the same date in the last five years. If the current number reaches a threshold of about 50% more than the five-year average, then it is considered an epidemic. The CDC also reviews this data at the state and city levels, and may declare a local epidemic.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the United States saw two mild flu seasons, mainly due to people following certain mitigation methods that can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as school closures, lockdowns, mask wearing, and social distancing, which have since ended in most areas of the world. country. This means that the baseline for determining an epidemic is lower than it might have been if the pandemic had never occurred.

The best way to prevent the flu is by taking a flu shot every year, says the CDC. Other flu prevention methods include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with other people as much as possible to avoid infecting them.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause the flu.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

More than CHECK: Most flu shots do not contain mercury.

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