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What to know about the 2019-2020 flu season

Posted at 4:18 PM, Feb 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 19:29:38-05

Here are some things you may not know about the 2019-2020 flu season, which is not like last year's flu season.

  • The flu dates back to 410 B.C., but did not get a name until 1357.
  • Flu season starts in October and can go as late as March and even April.
  • Flu season usually peaks in February.
  • Flu cases went down in the beginning of the year, but are on the rise again.
  • There are 4 types of flu viruses -- A, B, C and D. However, A and B are the only ones thought to cause the seasonal flu epidemics each winter.
  • Early in the season, strain B became the most common. This is very unusual because A, which is more dangerous, is usually the most common. The last time B was the most common was during the 1992-93 flu season.
  • A subgroup of the B virus seems to be causing the most trouble, according to tests ran in New Orleans where 1,200 cases of influenza B were diagnosed between July 31 and Nov. 21, 2019.
  • The B virus seems to be most common in children and young adults. A virus is most common with adults ages 65 and older.
  • It is not known why influenza B has caused so many infections this season. Because of it has been relatively scarce in recent years, the general population has less immunity to it.
  • Officials have said that this year's flu season is on track to be one of the worst in decades in terms of number of people getting sick.
  • However, there may be less deaths because most of the people who are getting sick are younger and more likely to survive.
  • There have been at least 22 million flu cases, 210,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths so far this season.
  • 61,000 people died during the 2018-2019 flu season.
  • 78 children have died this flu season.
  • Symptoms include fever or feeling feverish, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea (especially among children).
  • If you have a fever, avoid contact with others until it has been gone for 24 hours. If possible, stay home while you have the other symptoms too.
  • However, you can still spread the flu one day before symptoms start.
  • You are most likely to catch the flu from your child.
  • The flu virus can remain alive on a hard surface for up to 24 hours. It doesn't remain infectious as long on soft, porous surfaces. The flu virus only remains alive on your skin for 20 minutes.
  • Your dog or cat can catch the flu too, but they won't pass it on to you.
  • September is best time to get a flu shot, but it is NOT too late. Even though this year's flu vaccine is not the best match for the B subgroup, it should still help prevent the flu for most people.

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