NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says overall flu activity has declined over the last few weeks, but still remains high.
Flu B viruses have been dominating so far, reports CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.
“We are starting to see influenza A viruses also increasing, so exactly what that means we don’t know,” said CDC Director of the Influenza Division Dr. Dan Jernigan. “Last season we ended up having a very long season with two different circulating influenza viruses.”
Since influenza A, which tends to impact children and younger adults, has been the main circulating strain and flu B viruses tend to cause less severe illness, especially in older adults, the CDC says that may explain why hospitalizations and deaths are not yet as high as in previous seasons.
So far this season, there have been at least 13 million flu illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations and 6,600 deaths, including 39 children.
“The majority of those deaths are in kids who had influenza B infections and only about eight of those were vaccinated,” said Jernigan. “We know the vaccine can be effective in preventing death.”
One thing that’s making the flu season a little easier for families to cope with is telemedicine.
The Martinez family has two kids are sick with the flu. They’re seeing the pediatrician online.
“They don’t have to get dressed up and get in the car and get out of the house,” said mother Karla Martinez. “It’s more comfortable for them.”
Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann says more patients are using telemedicine to see doctors virtually during flu season.
“Influenza can really be efficiently treated using telehealth,” said Berchelmann. “We can get a full exam via telehealth for the flu and we can send you to a lab for testing, blood test, chest x-ray and, if necessary, we do need an in-person exam.”