Although the flu season may be slowing down, another increase in the influenza virus is triggering a second flu episode, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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The flu that dominated this season, influenza A (H3N2), is on the decline, but cases of influenza B have risen in March, according to the CDC's weekly statement 11. The report states that 58 percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza were caused by the B strain.
Here are 6 things you need to know about this late-season increase in Influenza B.
. 2 Influenza B is less associated with serious illness, but CDC says, do not take this strain lightly.
H3N2 is associated with more serious illnesses, complications, hospitalizations and deaths, especially in children, people over 65 and people with chronic conditions. But CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund urged vigilance: "We know that the disease associated with influenza B can be as bad as the disease associated with influenza A," Nordlund told CNN. "We also know that influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children."
. 3 In Georgia, there was an increase in influenza B, but the overall number continues to decline.
From the week ending March 17, the Georgia Department of Public Health said that 3.5 percent of patient visits to doctors were for the flu, compared to 3.7 percent of patient visits in the previous week. A month ago, 11.9 percent of the doctor's visits were for the flu. In Georgia, influenza A cases continue to represent a larger proportion of laboratory-confirmed flu cases: 8.9 percent for influenza A and 3.9 percent for influenza B.
4. Believe it or not, it's still not too late to get a shot if you do not have one.
The CDC recommends vaccinations "as long as influenza viruses are in circulation" and the season can last until May. In Georgia, according to the latest report, there is a "moderate" intensity of influenza. Influenza B viruses tend to respond better to vaccines than influenza A viruses. Overall, this season's vaccine is estimated to be about 36 percent effective, with less efficacy against the H3N2 strain, according to a mid-year CDC estimate. But even a partial protection can help to reduce the severity of the disease.
. 5 Do not drop your cover. Continue to take action to protect you and your family from catching and spreading the flu. Wash your hands – before and after eating, after using the toilet, after returning from work and school, after touching your mouth or nose. Hand hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stop the spread of germs.
. 6 Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and stay home when you are sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after stopping the fever (except to receive medical care or other necessities). Your fever should be gone for at least 24 hours without the use of a antipyretic drug like Tylenol. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings. Check with your daycare or school before sending your child back. Many have rules and it is usually at least a full day after they have no fever without medication.