This influenza season in the United States started as a mild and short period just 3 months ago, but an unexpected viral increase has recently made it become the longest over the last decade.
According to official reports gathered during last week and announced by the Centers of Disease Prevention Control on Friday, the influenza season of this year has been occurring for nearly 21 weeks. This makes it become one of the longest tracked seasons since the authorities began collecting influenza season data more than 2 decades ago.
A couple of experts compared these abnormal double waves with having 2 separate influenza seasons back-to-back, compressed, into a single one.
“I do not remember an influenza season similar to this,” said Doctor. Arnold Monto, a researcher at the University of Michigan, who has been studying and treating respiratory diseases for more than 40 years.
Previously, the longest influenza season was only 20 weeks, which happened between 2014 and 2015.
Influenza could result in a relatively mild, miserable condition in many patients, and a more serious illness in other people. The older people and young kids are at greatest risks from influenza and other complications caused by this illness. Thus, everyone is highly recommended for influenza vaccinations at least once per year, except for the very young children.
The current influenza season started during the Thanksgiving week, which a typical time of outbreak for this illness. In the beginning, the majority of illnesses tended to be triggered by an influenza variety which does not often cause too many hospitalizations and could be controlled easily by vaccines.
But since the middle of February, a more dangerous and stubborn category of influenza began causing more diseases and increased the number of people who need hospitalizations. To make the situation worse, the harsher bugs aren’t matched well to the vaccines, said Lynnette Brammer, a CDC employee who is responsible for tracking influenza.
However, the influenza season in this year is not actually as bad as the 19-week season during the last winter, which was the deadliest one in at least 40 years. It was estimated that approximately 80,000 people died of influenza and its effects last season.
The center is still estimating the number of influenza-related deaths this year. But the number ranges from 35 to 55 thousand people.
Good news is that even though the virus can be notoriously unpredictable, many signs indicate that this influenza season will be over soon.
“It is on the verge of ending”, said Lynnette Brammer. “If there is no change.”