Rates of flu-like activity are on the rise throughout Alabama. They have been increasing for a few weeks now, and a number of schools have closed due to the virus. Recent state data shows “influenza-like illness” (ILI) is widespread. In Alabama, eight percent of people seeking medical care report symptoms. That rate is slightly higher in Jefferson County.
Monroe says they have seen a recent surge in the number of patients with flu at Children’s.
“Everyone seems to be getting the flu at the same time,” Dr. Kathy Monroe, medical director at Children’s of Alabama emergency department says. It is the same at UAB, according to officials there.
“We’re seeing an increase in activity now but it’s not out of the ordinary to see it this time of year,” says Stephanie Ayers-Millsapp, disease intervention program manager at the Jefferson County Department of Health. “Now I don’t know how much it will continue to increase.”
She encourages people to get the flu shot if they have not already, practice good hygiene and stay home when sick. As of now, the flu is not as severe as it was last season when Alabama declared a state of emergency in response to the outbreak.
According to the state Department of Public Health, this flu season hasn’t peaked yet. So far there have been at least 15 deaths related to influenza. The good news is that preliminary data from the CDC shows the current vaccine appears to be a good match for the viral strains going around this year.