“Widespread flu activity”: Influenza cases spiking

With the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing that confirmed influenza cases are approaching 10 million, many experts are already predicting that the 2019-2020 flu season could be one of the worst in several years.

And with the CDC reporting “widespread flu activity” in 46 states — including Michigan — the organization is also reporting an early rise in cases of the influenza B strain, which usually gains predominance toward the end of the traditional season (around March and April).

The early spike in cases of flu B is consistent with the observations of McLaren Macomb emergency physicians, who report treating patients with common flu symptoms (high fever, body aches, fatigue, congestions) with the additional symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

Who’s at risk for the flu?

With millions already afflicted with the flu, millions more are at-risk due to how easily the flu spreads from person to person.

However, certain populations are at a greater risk due to the presence of certain risk factors.

Flu risk factors

  • Age (12 months and under; 65 and older)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Chronic illnesses (asthma, COPD, bronchitis, heart disease and others)
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

Prevent spreading the flu

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water
  • Avoid anyone who is sick
  • If you are sick, avoid contact/association with others

Physicians also strongly urge everyone over 6 months old to get a flu vaccine.

Based on researchers’ forecast for that season’s flu strain, the vaccine is designed to protect throughout the entire flu season. While physicians recommend getting vaccinated before the end of October, people can still get the shot until the end of January and still have it be effective.

Common flu symptoms

Some symptoms typically associated with the flu can mirrors the same symptoms of other illnesses. For example, a persistent cough and congestion are associated with an upper respiratory infection, while nausea and vomiting are symptoms of gastroenteritis.

Paying close attention to specific symptoms and flu risk factors is vital to catching the illness early and beginning treatment.

Flu A & B symptoms

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny/Stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue/Weakness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Diarrhea