Flu activity could be earlier, worse than last year: CDC

The 2017-2018 flu season is just beginning, but early data collections hint that it could ramp up earlier and be more severe than usual, notes the weekly flu activity report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Flu activity began to increase in November—a month earlier than usual. As of flu season Week 47 (ending November 25), the most prevalent flu cases are Influenza A, although some influenza B cases are beginning to appear. The most hospitalizations—by far—have been patients over age 65.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot, experts say. The traditional U.S. flu season usually peaks in early January through February, but can last as late as April.

Older adults can consider a high-dose version of the flu injection specially designed for people age 65 and older. This version, designed for older immune systems that may not be as responsive as in younger years, contains four times the antigens to trigger a better immune response.

All types of the flu vaccine take about two weeks to take hold in the body and improve the immune system.

Senior living communities should post flu awareness posters and hand-hygiene materials for families well before the holidays, when visitations tend to increase. Special precautions should be encouraged in units where those with chronic illnesses live and for all common areas.

The CDC provides free online information and materials for health professionals, including guidance for residents and family education resources.

For more information and resources, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/

Topics: Clinical , Infection control