Why this could be a nasty flu season in California

Why this could be a nasty flu season in California

Why this could be a nasty flu season in California

After two dangerous winters of waves COVID-19that’s the last news you want to hear — this year’s flu season is starting early and could be the worst in years.

According to the latest data, the number of hospitalizations due to the flu is increasing earlier this year than in the entire decade federal health data. This is consistent with predictions, including data from the Southern Hemisphere, which often serve as an overview of the Northern Hemisphere’s flu season.

“We saw a severe flu season in Australia during our 2022 summer (their winter) so this was a harbinger that our flu season could get worse,” Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine and infectious disease physician at UCSF, wrote in an email.

One of the biggest drivers of flu activity is probably the so-called “immunity debt,” according to Gandhi. Fewer people than usual have been exposed to the flu in the past two years, thanks to school closures and masking. But this winter is different, people are leaving their masks at home and gathering more freely indoors, leading to a wider spread. This means that immune systems are not as well prepared to clear the virus as in a typical year, leading to more infections that cause serious illness, or at least linger long enough to be detected.

About 7.9% of California flu tests came back positive October 23, compared with a positivity rate of 0.3% at the same time last year, according to government data. The overall incidence rate is relatively low in the Bay Area and higher in the southern part of the state, the Stanford infectious disease expert said. dr. Abraar Karanbut “this could change quickly.”

There are also some indications that fewer people are getting the flu shot this year, further reducing the population’s immunity. Public health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot as soon as possible. All three experts who spoke to SFGATE said it’s perfectly safe to get the flu and COVID vaccines at the same time.

Medical experts warn of a severe flu season this winter.

Why this could be a nasty flu season in California

About 7.9% of California flu tests tested positive on Oct. 23, compared with a 0.3% positive rate at the same time last year, according to state data.

Future Publishing/Future Publishing via Getty Images

How well the vaccine works for each individual “depends on the type of flu you get,” according to a UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. Flu vaccines are produced months in advance, based on infections during the southern hemisphere’s flu season.

While it remains unknown how effective this year’s flu vaccine will be against the strains most circulating here, the dominant strain in the US right now is H3N2, one of four strains included in this season’s shot. High rates of H3N2 infection have historically fueled more serious flu seasons, “especially for older adults and young children,” CDC it is stated in the press release.

Despite signs of a relatively quiet COVID-induced winter, experts are concerned about the potential for a bad flu season that, combined with the lingering effects of the pandemic, would further strain America’s already stressed health care system.

“350 people still die a day in the US from COVID – and that number is likely to increase as the number of cases of COVID increases in the community,” said Chin-Hong.


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