If you’ve noticed more coworkers have been calling in sick with the flu, it’s not just your imagination. Data show nearly twice as many Pennsylvanians have gotten the flu so far this season, compared to this time last year.
However, flu-related fatalities and hospitalizations are not particularly high this year.
That’s because Type B is that strain of influenza that’s been circulating for most of this season. Compared to Type A, the B strain is less deadly.
“The number [of people who] are hospitalized or who pass away with it is much less. B strain [is] less virulent, less likely to cause severe disease,” said University of Pittsburgh Dr. Richard Zimmerman, who studies the flu as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Zimmerman also noted that flu season came early this year, with a “big wave” in December. The state is starting to see a second peak of flu cases, with more caused by the Type A strain.
The Allegheny County Health Department reports that so far, seven residents have died this season from the flu. This includes two people in their 30s who had underlying medical conditions. Statewide there have been 40 flu-related fatalities.
The best way to stay healthy during flu season is to get vaccinated.