Flu season is bad this year.Just how bad?
40-one states have reported widespread flu activity, according to the latest centres for Disease Control and Prevention flu surveillance report, which tracked the week of December 23 to 29.
This season is unusually severe for a couple of reasons. First, this year’s strain of flu, called H3N2, has re-emerged after laying low for around nine years. H3N2 is associated with particularly lethal flu seasons in the past, and because it hasn’t been seen in a while, people have not produced antibodies for it. Flu also changes constantly, so we are never really immune to it — even if you’ve had the same strain of flu in the past.
But there’s something else.
Two other flu-like illnesses are circulating, which when they infect you can look like this severe strain — making it look even more severe. It’s like a perfect sickness storm.
The country is in the grip of three emerging flu or flulike epidemics: an early start to the annual flu season with an unusually aggressive virus, a surge in a new type of norovirus, and the worst whooping cough outbreak in 60 years. And these are all developing amid the normal winter highs for the many viruses that cause symptoms on the “colds and flu” spectrum.
Fortunately this year’s flu shot contains a vaccine for the H3N2 strain and Tamiflu is still effective for battling flu symptoms.
Check out this map from the CDC for a weekly view of flu activity in the United States.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.