Flu season may be starting in Michigan

January 7, 2011

A report yesterday from the Michigan Department of Community Health, which tracks reported influenza cases, indicated that the number of cases is rising in Michigan. The descriptive terms they use are that we moved from “sporadic” to “local” activity. Sporadic means that a few cases pop up here and there but do not spread from the first case to more than one person, starting an outbreak. Local activity means that the virus is spreading from person to person in some areas and the number of cases is increasing. It looks like flu season has started in Michigan.

Every influenza season is different. Some start early, some late, some spread quickly, some slowly, some virus strains cause severe disease, some milder, some seasons are short, some long, etc. This season seems to be a little late, to be starting slowly, and to cause milder symptoms than other years, although the season has just started and may get a lot worse.

So far, there are two strains of influenza circulating in the US at the same time. About 85% are strain A H3N2 and 15% are strain A H1N1, the same as last year’s virus. Both viruses are well covered by this year’s vaccine, so people who are immunized should be protected or have only mild symptoms.

Some people like to wait to be immunized until the influenza season starts, I suppose hoping that maybe there will not be an influenza season. Well, it is here and they should be immunized now. There is plenty of vaccine in the system and hospitals, county health departments, physician offices and retail phamacies all should have ample supply this year.

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