With the end of March in sight, many parents are probably breathing a sigh of relief that flu season is on its way out. Spring is officially here, after all. And who gets influenza in April? Except, apparently it isn't over quite yet. Although flu season is indeed starting to wind down at this point, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is warning about a current influenza danger that Americans should definitely be aware of. That's because a second wave of flu virus is happening now, warns the CDC, and here's what parents need to know.
So here's the lowdown, folks: Currently, B-viruses are being reported more frequently the A-strain influenza — the exact opposite of what the trend has been in recent months, NBC News reported. Which means, if your children have already suffered through influenza A, then they could still theoretically fall ill again with influenza B. (Cue: All parents fall to their knees and let out a dramatic, "Nooooo!!" Luke Skywalker style.) What's worse is, according to a CDC spokesperson, B-strain viruses have a tendency to be more serious for young children. So parents, if you thought your kiddos made it through the flu season unscathed this year: Think again. Your time could still be coming.
The good news is, flu activity seems to be declining, CNN reported. According to the CDC's Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, the percentage of respiratory specimens that tested positive decreased during week 11, when compared with the previous week. It's worth noting that there were still 4,759 specimens that tested positive for influenza (along with five more pediatric deaths) — bringing the grand total up to 246,766 positive specimens for this season and 133 flu-related pediatric deaths.
Of course, this second-wave business isn't exactly out of the ordinary, as CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund explained. "We often see a wave of influenza B during seasons when influenza A H3N2 was the predominant virus earlier in the season," she told CNN. "Unfortunately, we don't know what the influenza B wave will look like ... We won't know until we have more data."
Well, this is all mildly terrifying news. Especially since two-thirds of my children wound up with influenza A a couple of months ago — so they could theoretically experience round two through the B-strain. Good times, good times. Because, you know, it's not like I have anything else to do than tending to sick, miserable children who are couch sloths of infected doom.
Okay, so that was slightly dramatic. But any parent who has dealt with a flu-ridden child knows how miserable it can be for everyone. Here's what you can do to help decrease the risk for your child during this second wave of influenza, according to the CDC.
- It's not too late to get the flu shot!
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. (The same goes if someone is sick in your family.)
- Keep your child home, if they are sick. (The same goes for mom and dad.)
- Remind your kiddos to cover their mouths and nose when sneezing or coughing. (Not that they'll always remember, nagging can help.)
- Wash hands often.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes to prevent the spread of germs.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces at home frequently. And practice other good health habits, like: Staying active, eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleeping, and managing stress levels.
Of course, if your kids are school-aged or go to daycare, then there's only so much you can do. Anything parents can do to help stop the spread of germs will help. (And if your family hasn't already, it's never too late to get the flu shot!) Because from a mom who has already been through round one of flu season with two kids, trust me — you want to avoid influenza at all costs.