Both here in western North Carolina and around the nation, the 2017-18 flu season rose to the level of an official epidemic. As the number of flu cases continued to rise throughout the winter, many schools saw unprecedented flu-related absences and, most unfortunately, our state experienced a record number of flu-related deaths.
This year’s record-setting flu season – which officially continues through May – is a stark reminder to always get the flu vaccine, practice proper hand hygiene, stay at home when you’re sick and seek care immediately if you have flu-like symptoms.
The numbers below illustrate just how bad this flu season was, as we compare the total number of flu cases to the 2016-17 flu season. These numbers represent total positive flu tests at Mission Health facilities in WNC, specific to the time frames denoted.
- January 2018 saw more than five times the amount of flu cases than January 2017
- 2017 – 167
- 2018 – 886
- February 2018 flu cases were nearly double the amount in January 2017
- 2017 – 356
- 2018 – 637
- Through March 22, 2018, flu cases were pacing nearly 300 more than the same date last season
- 2016-17 = 1537
- 2017-18 = 1808
The lessons from this flu season’s epidemic are nothing new. To avoid the flu, the best thing you can do is to get the flu shot. It’s also imperative to seek the appropriate medical care if you become ill with flu symptoms. Both of these steps could be life-saving.
As this year has shown us, the flu is a serious illness that is not to be taken lightly.
Information provided by David Buhner, Public Health Epidemiologist with Mission Health’s Infection Prevention Program.