- Influenza A, H3N2, began towards the end of 2017 and peaked on March 31, 2018.
- There may be a second wave this year, with the virus of influenza B.
It seems like the year of 2018 is another episode of widespread influenza. H3N2 is the virus that is behind influenza A. It began at the end of last year and reached its peak in January. Since then, the number of infected individuals has decreased significantly. However, people should remain cautious because this may be a repetition of the 2009 influenza, otherwise known as H1N1.
That’s right. Like the 2009 influenza, this year’s flu may have a second wave in the near future. Rumor has it that there is now a second virus strain that is as lethal as the first, if not more, that’s going around. It is the influenza B strain that has descended from the Yamagata lineage. This means that those who were already infected by the flu the first time around holds the risk of getting infected again.
The question now is, how bad will it be?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published a Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report on the “2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 13 ending March 31, 2018”. In the report, specific numbers and data are provided on both Influenzas A and B. Nonetheless, these figures are only a representation of the data collected from the United States and Puerto Rico. Yet that still does not include all of them.
As a matter of fact, figures like this are often underestimated because these data in particular, was retrieved from the records of public health and clinical laboratories. This means that those who had received their treatments from medical practices that are not in communication with those laboratories are not included in the statistics. On top of that, there are also those who have contracted the flu yet did not seek out help. Altogether, it is likely that they make up a small but significant percentage of infected individuals.
Of course, having some [statistical data] is still better than none at all. At least now we are more informed of the situation. According to the report from CDC, 7 out of 10 people who had shown symptoms of the flu turned out to have been infected by the initial strain of the virus – influenza A. Nonetheless, we cannot let our guards down even as the first wave slowly comes to an end. In the final week of last month, a different viral strain had surfaced. On week thirteen, 6 out of 10 people with flu-like symptoms have tested positive for influenza B.
We know that the first wave reached its peak three months ago and the number of infected individuals has been in decline since. However, we need to increase our understanding of the impending wave in order to better prepare ourselves in facing the pandemic. How much time do we have left until it reaches a peak?
The most number of infected individuals that had contracted influenza B at one point was 7785 and that occurred two months ago in February. In approximately six weeks, the number had shrunken down to 2028 infected individuals. While there is a significant reduction in numbers, the data is unstable and remains to be fluctuating. Experts have conveyed the uncertainty of the possibility of another wave at the moment. Meanwhile, readers should keep in mind that these numbers are still missing a whole chunk of the complete piece.
Regardless of whether or not influenza B will cause a second wave, the flu will continue to circulate until May this year.
Nevertheless, you can never be certain of the risks of getting infected by influenza at any point in time. There exists a countless number of viral strains and these viruses are constantly mutating. In this way, a person can go from susceptible to infected, and be susceptible to a mutated version of the strain again.
You can never be too careful when it comes to health, especially when a pandemic strike. There are, however, measures that one could take in preparation of such circumstances. To begin with, the flu shot could provide some form of protection. Although it may not be a hundred percent effective against some virus, again, having some sort of protective layer is better than none at all. While it may seem counterintuitive, but it is crucial to maintaining a standard of hygiene in your surroundings, especially at times like this.
Last but not least, be considerate of the others and isolate yourself if you have any flu-like symptoms! In fact, do not travel when you have been infected as this will bring the virus to the world. As a consequence, there will be a bigger group of susceptible and exposed individuals.
Featured image via flickr/ Mike Mozart