Flu Season Is Expected to Last Longer Than Usual, the CDC Reports
The CDC warns that this year's flu season might last well into spring.
This year's flu season has been anything but normal. For starters, H3N2, a more severe strain of the flu, has progressively been on the rise. Now, a new report by the CDC says that even though the season reached its peak in February, it's not showing signs of slowing down. (Related: When Is the Best Time to Get a Flu Shot?)
Usually, flu season stretches from October until May and starts to scale back around late February or March. This year, though, flu activity could remain elevated through April, according to the CDC-which is the highest late-season activity they've ever recorded since they began tracking the flu 20 years ago.
"Influenza-like-illness levels have been at or above baseline for 17 weeks this season," according to the report. By comparison, the last five seasons have averaged only 16 weeks at or above baseline flu rates. (Related: Can a Healthy Person Die from the Flu?)
The CDC also noted that the percentage of medical visits for flu-like symptoms has been 2 percent higher this week compared to past years and that we should "expect flu activity to remain elevated for a number of weeks." Oh, great.
The good news: As of this week, only 26 states are experiencing high flu activity, which is down from 30 the week before. So while this season might last longer than usual, it does seem that we're on the downturn.
Either way, the flu is likely to stick around for several more weeks, so the best thing you can do (if you haven't already) is get the vaccine. You might think it's too late, but with different strains of the flu going around this year, it's better to be late than sorry. (Did you know 41 percent of Americans didn't plan to get the flu shot, despite last year's deadly flu season?)
Already had the flu? Sorry, but you're still not off the hook. Believe it or not, you can get the flu twice in one season. There have already been somewhere between 25,000 and 41,500 flu-related deaths and as many as 400,000 hospitalizations this season, so it isn't something to be taken lightly. (Here are four other ways you can protect yourself from the flu this year.)