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Experts are reportedly predicting that flu season could be coming to hit the US, after what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called a low-severity season last year.
High case numbers in Australia are sparking concerns, with data from Australia’s surveillance system showing cases this year have already outpaced those of 2019.
So far this year, there have been 212,573 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza and 246 deaths reported to the country’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.
In 2019, approximately 150,000 cases were reported by mid-July, according to a USA Today report.
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Although influenza activity has been decreasing in the US and summer circulation is typically low, the CDC said that remaining vigilant for infections, testing for seasonal viruses and monitoring for novel influenza A virus infections remain important.
“An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) is ongoing; health care providers and persons with exposure to sick or infected birds should remain vigilant for onset of symptoms consistent with influenza,” it said. “Receiving a seasonal influenza vaccine each year remains the best way to protect against seasonal influenza and its potentially severe consequences.”
Flu viruses can change from year to year, so the vaccine is updated annually to protect against new flu virus strains.
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America’s flu season generally peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May.
Drugstore pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are already offering flu shots for customers, via walk-in and scheduled appointments.
A 2018 study of the US population suggests that between 3% and 11% get sick from the flu each season.
The study also found that children are most likely to get sick and that people over the age of 65 and older are the least likely.
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Complications from flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions.
The CDC estimates that flu has resulted in 9 million to 41 million illnesses and between 12,000 and 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020.