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February 14 2022 12:00 am

Flu makes comeback with dominant strain A (H3N2)

Health

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — COVID-19 is still a huge problem, but now that the flu season is just getting started, the CDC is noting a sharp increase in flu cases from last year.

Health experts say flu season typically peaks in February, however the first two influenza-associated pediatric deaths this season were reported just this week.

Both cases were associated with influenza A virus infections.

The CDC has been tracking the flu across the country and they say seasonal flu activity is increasing, so are hospitalizations.

Dr. Micheal Kilkenny, CEO at the Cabell Huntington Health Department says COVID-19 is still their biggest concern this season, but the flu continues to be a public threat.

“The flu season is firing up a little bit, although the cases are still low, that’s higher than it was last year when there were some flu last year but it was almost invisible,” said Kilkenny.

Flu viruses are known to mutate, and the most dominant strain of influenza this season has been A(H3N2).

“If you have respiratory symptoms right now, we are recommending that you get a COVID test first and if it’s not COVID, then we can start looking for flu,” he said.

Respiratory symptoms like sore throat, cough, runny nose, and fever.

Kilkenny says there is a lot of hypotheses out there about why the flu was largely absent last year, one theory is that the self-imposed lockdowns and masking led to less spreading of germs.

But he does not think it’s because the flu went undetected by doctors or was assumed to be COVID-19 by people who were feeling ill.

“We did monitor locally with a network of health centers here in Cabell County last year and we know that the positives were just small numbers.”

Like COVID-19, a vaccination against the flu is the safest way to keep from contracting the virus.

Vaccination rates for the flu are also down this year.

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