CBS Local — Although the flu season may be winding down, the Centers for Disease Control has some bad news for Americans as a second wave of the potentially fatal illness is reportedly spreading across the country.
In a March 23 release the CDC announced that overall flu cases are finally dropping, however “Influenza B” cases have jumped above the more common “Influenza A” virus. Cases of the B-strain made up nearly 60 percent of the country’s flu cases reported during the week of March 17.
“We know that illness associated with influenza B can be just as severe as illness associated with influenza A,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said, via CNN. “We also know that influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children.”
Nordlund added that it’s possible for people who have been sick with one strain of the flu to become infected with a different strain within the same season. The CDC spokeswoman admits the agency doesn’t know how severe the spread of Influenza B will be in 2018 and is still urging Americans to get a flu shot.
The latest flu report for Massachusetts released Friday shows there have been 13,262 laboratory-confirmed cases of Influenza A this flu season compared to 5,146 cases of Influenza B. However, the data shows that in the past week, there were more confirmed cases of Influenza B (305) than Influenza A (296).
To this point, 26,694 people have been hospitalized nationwide with flu-related symptoms and nearly 80 percent of those cases have been for Influenza A. Influenza B’s tendency to affect children more severely makes a late-season outbreak of the strain highly concerning. Since October 2017, 133 children have died due to the flu.