Flu season is here and infections are on the rise

Michigan’s flu season came just over a month earlier than usual this year. Upon its arrival tagged along a familiar, but unwelcome virus.

According to health officials, there is an increase of people of all ages being admitted to health care centers for influenza cases.

As of a couple weeks ago, more than 90% of the positive influenza specimens match the H1N1 virus.

Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Community Health, said there are four different strains of influenza. He said H1N1 tends to be most common of strains, and most severe.

“The patterns of illness from H1N1 that we’re already seeing from this season really remind health experts of patterns of severe illness that we saw back in 2009-10 that caused so much concern across the country,” Davis said.

In 2009, and currently, H1N1 spread primarily among young and middle-aged adults, and those who would tend to have better health.

Davis said that their main concern are the younger and middle-age adults, like college students, especially students going back to campus after break.

Davis said college students are some of the least likely to get the flu vaccines in Michigan.

He says he is asked often if the vaccines are worth it.

“What I do is emphasize to them [patients] that we can’t be sure how severe the flu is going to be each year; we can’t know how widely it will spread,” Davis said. “Vaccination, although it may give you a sore arm for a couple days or, perhaps, a low-grade fever, cannot give you the flu from the shot.”

Davis said it’s a common misperception that somehow one can get the flu from the shot. He said that is impossible because there is no flu virus in the vaccination that is delivered by the injection.

Deaths caused by the flu are not required to be recorded, but the MDCH has there have been at least six deaths due to influenza since December 21, 2013.