The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting that flu activity remains low across the state and nation.
As of February 27, there have been 2,816 laboratory-confirmed flu cases and 14 flu-associated deaths statewide to date– with flu cases in all 67 counties.
“In recent years, flu activity has been widespread across Pennsylvania,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “Last season was higher than usual with more than 11,000 cases of flu this time of year. That is a stark difference from where we are in 2021; below 3,000 cases. We can attribute the low flu activity in part to COVID-19 mitigation efforts that are also effective in preventing the flu, since the two infectious diseases spread the same way. In addition, a record number of individuals got their flu vaccine this season.”
There have been 37 influenza associated hospitalizations reported in Pennsylvania during the current flu season. Influenza A and B have been identified by laboratory testing.
According to the department of health, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Laboratories continues to test for both flu and COVID-19. It was reported nationally that the drop of flu cases occurred despite a sixfold increase in testing at public health labs, most of which test for influenza A and B along with COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend health care providers test patients who have COVID-19-like symptoms for both flu and COVID-19, because it is impossible to differentiate between the two viruses without testing, and patients can have both viruses at the same time.
As of February 12, 2021, the CDC reported 193.7 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed in the United States. This surpassed the previous record of 174.5 million doses distributed during the 2019-20 flu season.
The flu vaccines are available in Pennsylvania as a shot for anyone 6 months or older and as a shot or nasal spray for anyone age 2 or older.
Flu is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the nose, throat and lungs and may include the following symptoms:
- Dry cough;
- Sore throat;
- Nasal congestion; and
- Body aches.
The full flu report can be found on the 2020-2021 flu season webpage, here.