GREAT RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Local health experts say the flu season is getting ready again.
Just last week, 237 cases of influenza were reported in Kent County and Local Health Service Data (PDF) shows that it seems that the number of cases is on the rise.
Last year, the number of cases increased earlier in the year and the trend was downward at this time. The current number of cases is also above the four-year average for this time of year.
Experts say it is not uncommon for the flu season to start in the early spring. The Kent County Health Department Epidemiologist, Brian Hartl, says it can reach its peak between October and April each year. Sometimes it reaches its maximum early, sometimes late.
"It's been a weird year since we've had some sort of increased activity towards the end of the calendar year in 2018 and also the last two weeks," said Hartl. "We do not know exactly what the cause is. Is it time or something like that? "
Dr. Dan McGee, a pediatrician at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, said the flu season peaked in March, following a winter snowier than average.
"We have seen an advanced flu season on a number of occasions. The last time I remember seeing it was the year when we had 120 inches of snow, "McGee said.
The experts do not know for sure, but they think that the winter failure we experienced in January and February could be to blame.
"One of the theories is due to the cold weather at the beginning of the year and the large number of school closures for a long time. People did not have time to cough and sneeze and spread the flu, "says McGee.
Now that children are back in class and people are out, the disease is spreading.
Experts recommend that people remain vigilant and think twice if they have not done so yet. get vaccinated against the flu or vaccinate their children.
"We know this year that the vaccine is about 50% effective against influenza A," said McGee. "If I were given the choice of getting the flu or not getting the flu and you offered me one in 50 chance of not getting it, I would take it."
In addition to being vaccinated against the flu, experts say the best way to protect yourself from infection is to wash your hands and stay away from people you know are sick.