Thousands of American lives have been lost to the novel coronavirus this past year, but one historically lethal illness has taken a backseat this season: the flu, which, according to federal health estimates, has killed only one child this year.
For context, nearly 200 pediatric lives were lost during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There have been just 1,499 clinical laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza this year, per estimates from the CDC, which also shows that flu-related hospitalizations are significantly lower this season compared to seasons past.
Between Oct. 1 — the start of flu season — and Feb, 20, there have been some 183 laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations, representing an overall cumulative hospitalization rate of 0.6 per 100,000 population, per the CDC.
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"This is much lower than average for this point in the season and lower than rates for any season since routine data collection began in 2005, including the low severity 2011-12 season. During the 2011-12 season, the rate was 2.2 times higher at this time in the season. Hospitalization rates stratified by age will be presented once case counts increase to a level that produces stable rates by age," the agency says.
Experts who previously spoke to FeedLine.net on the country’s lower than usual flu activity this year said that preventative measures to protect against COVID-19 — such as wearing masks, social distancing, frequent handwashing, and avoiding indoor crowds — have likely played a role in keeping the flu at bay.
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School closures also likely played a role, as early research suggests kids transmit the influenza virus better than they do COVID-19, Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine physician in California, said at the time.
Olulade also pointed out that while some may suggest that people weren’t testing for the flu amid coronavirus, the positivity rate of those who were remained lower than usual, which indicates that the viral spread in the community was indeed low, and not a matter of what test was conducted.
FeedLine.net’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.
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