Huge flu outbreak on the College of Michigan sparked CDC investigation


A massive flu outbreak at the University of Michigan has caught the attention of public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC sent investigators to the Ann Arbor campus this week to learn about the dynamics of the outbreak as the United States enters its second flu season in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first positive test was on October 6, according to the college newspaper The university record. Since then, 528 cases have been diagnosed by the University Health Service (UHS) on campus, with a sharp increase in the past two weeks. During the week of November 1, the UHS diagnosed 198 new cases, with 27% of all tests performed coming back positive. The week of November 8, there were 313 new cases and the rate of positive tests rose to 37%.

It is normal for influenza cases to start increasing as early as October, with influenza activity usually peaking between December and February, according to the CDC– but an epidemic of this magnitude so early in the flu season is cause for concern. “While we often start to see influenza activity now, the size of this outbreak is unusual,” said Juan Luis Marquez, MD, MPH, medical director of the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD). The university record. Experts are concerned what this could point to more broadly for the upcoming flu season. « This epidemic does not necessarily have an immediate impact on the local community at large, but it raises concerns about what the flu season may bring, » said Dr Marquez.

While the investigation, conducted by a team of experts from the CDC, university, and state and county health departments, is only just beginning, it so far appears that low vaccination rates against the flu could be a factor. According to the UHS, 77% of diagnosed cases have occurred in people who have not received a flu shot. (While the COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for University of Michigan students, faculty, and staff, there is no flu shot requirement.) Officials strongly recommend that students and the surrounding community get their seasonal flu shot as soon as possible.

Although the seasonal flu vaccine is not perfect and its effectiveness varies from year to year, the seasonal flu vaccine generally offers significant protection against serious illness and reduces the spread in the community, such as SELF explained. The influenza vaccine given in the United States is reformulated each influenza season based on what experts predict to be the strains of the ever-changing virus that are circulating the most. The strain that caused the Michigan epidemic is a subtype of the influenza A virus called H3N2, The university record reports, and this year’s influenza vaccine includes inoculation against an H3N2-like virus, according to the CDC.

Many questions remain, and investigators are hopeful that the information they glean from studying this flu epidemic could be useful in anticipating this flu season across the United States. nationwide in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, ”said Lindsey Mortenson, MD, UHS medical director and interim executive director. The university record. For example, the team aims to learn about the effectiveness of the current influenza vaccine and risk factors for influenza transmission (among others) through a combination of data analysis, surveys, and laboratory analysis. ‘patient samples, according to The university record.

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