Longest flu season in decade, CDC says

Health News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Flu season is well underway and there doesn’t seem to be an exact end in sight.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are in the 21st week. A typical season lasts about 20 weeks.

“Flu season in Savannah typically starts in the fall of October or November and usually end February sometimes March. This year it’s been over 20 weeks which is record-setting. Which is, at least in the last 10 years, the longest we have seen,” Dr. Ben Spitalnick, Pediatric Associates of Savannah said.

The virus is different every year which is why researchers continue to learn more about the strains. Dr. Spitalnick says this year one of the strains duplicated.

“This year we had two a strains that lasted a very long time. early in the fall and winter, it was an H1N1 type a strain and now throughout the late winter and spring, we’re seeing an H3N2 type a strain. Both of them are very similar in the presentation and in the severity,” Spitalnick said.

In the last two weeks, Dr. Spitalnick said he has seen more patients come in with flu-like symptoms which is surprising in April.

“It’s not common for it to last this long. Some years are more severe. Last year was probably more severe the 2017-2018 flu season we saw more sick kids with more severity,” Spitalnick said. “This year is not as severe but lasting a lot longer. So no this is not common.”

But the challenge is flu shots have ended for the season.

“We’ve stopped doing flu shots just within the past few weeks but it goes to show you that there’s never any such thing as it’s too late to get a flu shot,” he said.

Health officials across the country are working to find more ways to combat the flu.

“For children this year we did a flu shot. Next year it looks like the academy of pediatrics is approving both the flu shot and flu nasal spray,” Dr. Spitalnick said.

The doctor expects flu-like symptoms to decrease within the next few weeks, ending before summer.

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