WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Officials with the CDC say they’ve determined a flu strain more commonly seen at the end of the season was responsible for the early outbreaks over the past year.
Influenza B has been the most common of the flu viruses nationally this flu season, accounting for 97.7 percent of flu-positive rest results from public health labs. The widespread nature of the strain is out of the ordinary, as it has not been the predominate virus in the US since 1992-1993.
The viruses in this category can cause life threatening complications in all age groups, but is more common among children. Seventy percent of hospitalizations among children and 18 of 27 flu-associated pediatric deaths were connected to influenza B viruses, according to the CDC.
As for the flu vaccine’s effectiveness against influenza B viruses, the CDC’s website says most flu vaccines in the US protect against four viruses, including two influenza B viruses. While each virus is genetically distinct, the CDC study released last week says the latest research shows the current season’s vaccine “might offer protection against circulating B/ Victoria viruses.”
It is not too late to be vaccinated for the 2019–20 flu season. Influenza activity is expected to continue for many weeks in the country and additional hospitalizations and deaths, including among children, are expected to occur.