The CDC reports that flu season is here (FluView from the CDC for the week ending Dec. 29, 2018). The number of states reporting high flu activity has more than doubled, from 9 to 19. Consequently, there is a good chance that there could be active cases of flu near you.
What Kind of Flu Is Important This Year?
Two strains of influenza A are circulating: H1N1 and H3N2. Influenza B is also making people sick. Preliminary data suggest that this year’s flu shot is working well against the H1N1 strain of influenza. CDC estimates that it reaches about 65 percent effectiveness. It is still early, though, and the H3N2 virus is the one that sometimes causes the most severe illness.
Good News About the Flu Near You:
There is some good news at this point in the flu season. Hospitalizations and death rates are substantially lower than this time last year.
What’s more, there is a new antiviral medicine on the market. Xofluza is a one-dose flu treatment that can shorten the duration of flu symptoms if taken within 48 hours of influenza onset. It is pricey, though. One pill of baloxavir (the generic name for Xofluza) can cost over $160.
An older oral antiviral medicine, Tamiflu, is now available in generic form as oseltamivir. With a coupon it is about one third the cost of Xofluza.
The CDC encourages everyone to get a flu shot before there’s flu near you and the peak of flu season arrives in all 50 states. If you come down with symptoms of fever, cough, congestion and muscle aches, stay home so you don’t spread the germs around.