The fact that B strains are being seen this early does not bode well for the rest of the season."Hopefully, this turns around and comes down, but if it continues on the trajectory it's on, it's not going to be good," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN.
Flu season started early this year, and so far, it does not appear to have peaked as more cases of A strains – H1N1 and H3N2 – of flu are being seen. In most years, A strains come early in the season and B strains follow.
Even more concerning is that while the flu vaccine seems to be a good match for the A strain of the flu, this season's flu shot does not look like a good match for the B Victoria flu, according to the CDC.
However, CDC officials stress that it is better to get a flu vaccination even if it is not as effective against the current dominant strain. The shot, doctors say, can lessen flu complications even if it does not prevent you from getting the flu.
It is not too late to get the vaccination, CDC officials said. It takes about two weeks after receiving the shot for the body to build the antibodies necessary to fight the virus. The vaccines protect against two strains of influenza A virus and two strains of influenza B.
At least 6.4 million flu-related illnesses, 55,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths from the flu have been recorded so far this season, the CDC reported.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever, which may be as high as 103°F to 105°F
- Body aches, which may be severe
- Sore throat
- Cough that gets worse
- Runny or stuffy nose
The last week of December saw these flu activity levels:
- High level – The District of Columbia, New York City, Puerto Rico, and these 34 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
- Moderate level – Nine states: Florida, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming
- Low level – Five states: Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, and Nevada
- Minimal –Two states: Delaware and Idaho