BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As coronavirus cases surge across the country, there’s been a huge decline in flu cases. This year could be a record low, according to the CDC.
Certainly, people wearing masks, washing their hands, keeping their distance and getting their flu shots have played a role in these extremely low numbers.
Local doctors are simply shocked with how low the flu numbers are right now.
“Compared to last year, flu numbers are just down tremendously?” questioned WAFB’s Lester Duhe’.
“Absolutely. I can’t emphasize that enough that we’re just really not seeing it,” said Bryan Parker, Director of Clinical Operations for Patient Plus Urgent Care.
Parker says symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are so similar, so they’re testing people for both.
“So everybody that comes in looking for the flu, I’m testing them for the flu, but they come back positive for COVID,” said Parker.
Of course, every flu season is different, and it seems that so far, the flu hasn’t picked up yet.
Here’s one possible reason, at the start of December, the CDC says more than 189 million doses of the flu vaccine were distributed in the United States.
That’s the highest number of Flu doses distributed during a single Flu season.
“Flu season doesn’t usually peak here until January or February, so you could say that we just haven’t seen that peak yet. But even still, when you look historically the number of flu cases at this time at even a month or two ago, are usually higher than what we’ve seen so far recorded,” said Dr. Michael Bolton, a Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist at OLOL Children’s Hospital.
In fact, according to the CDC from September 2020 through the end of December, more than 363,000 tests have been conducted for the flu.
And only 877 of those have been positive, which is 0.2%.
During last flu season from October 2019 through April 2020, the CDC said it was a ‘moderate’ season, with around 38 million Americans who were sick with the flu.
And if you take a look at the green line on this graph below provided by the Louisiana Department of Health, it shows right now the state is well below the regional baseline for flu-like illness activity.
And while we won’t be wearing masks forever, doctors are still urging you to mask up for this flu season, and keep up the good hygiene like washing your hands for the next.
“The more we can have folks take the personal responsibility to do these things and for our leaders to advocate on that behalf, I think it’s going to go a long way in the future to ensure that flu vaccines and other vaccines that are necessary, are taken seriously by the public,” said Dr. Bolton.
According to this Walgreens Flu Index, Louisiana is still in the top 5 states with flu activity in the country right now.
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