Aggressive strain of flu impacting children, young people most, vaccinations encouraged


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Doctors report seeing an increase in this year’s flu season and it’s mostly impacting children and young people. A good number of these cases have been caused by the Influenza B strain, a type of flu that usually comes later in the season. It was preceded by Influenza A this time and it’s mostly kids. Doctors said the flu, however, is impacting others too.

“I can tell you that we’ve seen an increase over the last few weeks,” said Dr. Thomas Zickgraf, Doctors Hospital Emergency Department Medical Director.

“The volume of flu is not as high as it was in maybe 2017-2018 flu season, but it’s certainly higher than last year,” said Dr. Bo Sherwood, University Primary and Prompt Care Medical Director.

The coughing, running noses, fever, muscle aches and more are back and at its highest sending several people to local hospitals and prompt cares.

Dr. Sherwood added, “Most importantly we’re seeing a different strain, but a strain that is more aggressive.”

Dr. Bo Sherwood told us he’s seen Influenza B inside University Primary and Prompt Cares. That strain usually comes later in the season, which spans from October to February, but it came first. He said this type of flu is hitting more children with weaker immune systems and young adults. The flu shot helps, but the vaccine is not 100 percent.

“In its best years, it has about a 40 to 50 percent success rate in blocking the flu, stopping the flu, stopping you from getting the flu,” he said. “Also, even if you do get the flu and you’ve had the vaccine you may have a less severe form of the flu.”

A spokesperson with University Hospital said the ER department’s flu intake has been consistent with with last year.

More people are also going to the ER department at Doctors Hospital with the flu and Influenza B is high there as well.

The medical director there warns all that even though flu season may have just one more month, get vaccinated because sometimes it extends into April.

“Good hand hygiene is important. The flu is commonly spread by respiratory droplets. But it can also live on surfaces,” Dr. Zickgraf said.

We checked with Augusta University and Childrens Hospital of Georgia. Both report an increase in flu cases this year and it’s high for Influenza B.

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