Has the 2019 Flu Season Arrived in North Florida?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is responsible for the close monitoring of influenza viruses each month to better assess the disease's potential impact on public health. Since evolutionary changes continue to occur in the influenza viruses used to develop vaccines, monitoring each state's data is useful in comparing how similar currently circulating strains compare to an existing vaccine's ability to induce the correct immune response. The CDC uses next-generation sequencing analysis (or functional assay) to test influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B viruses for resistance to the current neuraminidase inhibitors.
Although the increase in the percentage of outbreaks confirmed by patient visits for influenza-like infections was in the low range for Florida for the 52nd week of 2018, the overall impact may have been influenced by a reduction in routine healthcare visits during the Holidays, which has been observed in previous years. It should also be noted that the neighboring states of Georgia and Alabama were among the 19 still experiencing high levels of influenza-like illnesses. While an overall decrease was seen statewide in Florida, increases were still observed in the panhandle region.
Antiviral treatment as early as possible is recommended for patients with confirmed or suspected influenza, especially for high-risk individuals, those with severe forms of the progressive illness, and those who require hospitalization for serious influenza-related complications. If you are concerned about changes in the weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Reports, visit the CDC website for the Influenza Division's FluView for updates on the area where you live as well as where you might be travelling to and from.
If you or a loved one experience flu-like symptoms or symptoms that seem to go away and come back, it is prudent to schedule an appointment at our Jacksonville, Orange Park or St. Augustine primary care facility. Our board certified physician will listen to your complaints, order some lab work, and prescribe the best care to get you back on track as soon as possible.