Flu season activity down as Lake Area continues to grapple with COVID-19

VIDEO: Flu vs. COVID-19

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - With the peak of flu season behind us, the latest numbers point to a revelation as the nation continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Fall 2020, only 193 Americans have needed to be hospitalized for the flu.

It points to a steady trend that Region 5 Medical Director Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh says can be seen even in our region, which has consistently held a high positivity rate for COVID-19.

In light of the deadly pandemic, last Summer, medical experts warned of a possible ‘twindemic’ once flu season arrived.

”So, this year’s flu season was extremely mild,” Dr. Cavanaugh said.

Thankfully, the nightmare scenario never unfolded.

”Just from a clinical perspective, it was very difficult to tell the difference because the symptoms could often be the same: fever, body aches, and coughing,” Dr. Cavanaugh said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, statistics show very low numbers for the 2020-2021 flu season.

A CDC spokesperson said, “Flu activity is extremely low this flu season, with activity for the season as a whole the lowest in 25 years.”

The weekly CDC flu surveillance report shows that more than 650,000 specimens have been tested for the flu this season, and only 1,499 have come back positive for a positivity rate of 0.2 percent. That’s the lowest activity for a season in 25 years, according to a CDC spokesperson.

There have been just 183 hospitalizations for the flu between October 1, 2020, and February 20, 2021, for a rate of 0.6 hospitalizations per 100,000.

Cavanaugh says our area has managed to stay below the national threshold.

”Since last summer, throughout the entire season really, the main way we tell the difference between the two is not through clinical symptoms. It’s through testing.”

Overall, she says COVID mitigation measures are to thank for the low flu rate. Being that Region 5 is still not quite out of the woods when it comes to COVID-19, having this flu season in our rear view is a plus.

”At the beginning of flu season, we didn’t know that was going to happen. I remember being very concerned about what we would do if people were co-infected. Luckily, we did not see much of that happen,” Cavanaugh said.

CDC data shows that Louisiana usually has one of the lowest flu vaccination rates in the country. Statewide, more people are opting for the COVID-19 vaccine rather than the flu vaccine, but experts warn that even though you have the COVID vaccine, it can not protect you from contracting the flu.

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