CDC: Flu Season Isn’t Over Yet with Uptick in B-Strain Reported

Flu season
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly influenza report shows that while influenza infections have decreased overall, the flu season is not over.

CDC data show that the A-strain of the flu dominated in the early part of this season, but the latest report shows an uptick in the B-strain of the virus.

“During the week ending March 24, of the 3,575 (14.7%) influenza-positive tests reported to CDC by clinical laboratories, 1,509 (42.2%) were influenza A viruses and 2,066 (57.8%) were influenza B viruses,” the CDC report states.

“Flu activity is likely to remain elevated for a number of weeks,” the CDC report states.

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told the Weather Channel, however, that this reversal of strain dominance is not unusual.

“Though flu activity is declining, this increase in influenza B cases is not surprising,” Norlund said. ”We often see this during seasons when influenza A H3N2 was the predominant virus earlier in the season.”

Norlund said the B-strain of the virus can be just as dangerous as any other strain, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.

“Illness associated with influenza B can be just as severe as illness associated with influenza A and influenza B is usually worse for younger children,” Nordlund said.

The weekly report shows that 16 states are reporting widespread flu activity, including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The report also reveals that four more pediatric deaths took place over the most recent reporting period, bringing the total this season to 137.

Despite the overall decrease, Norlund said it is not too late to get a flu shot.

“As long as flu is spreading vaccination should continue,” Nordlund told the Weather Channel. “It’s important to know that it takes about two weeks for protection to set in.”

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