Flu season is over, but viruses are still circulating

The period that health care workers generally consider to be flu season ended several days ago, but viruses can still be out there in warmer weather.

The influenza-A H1N1 strain spread across much of North America in 2009; the first confirmed U.P. cases came at about this time of year.

The Marquette County Health Department says some influenza-B cases showed up in late May, but total flu activity is very mild right now.

“Pretty much across the state of Michigan, it’s rated as sporadic cases at this point,” Marquette County Health Department medical director Dr. Terry Frankovich said. “(It’s) really just patchy here and there. We occasionally will get a nursing home facility or something else where there’ll be a little cluster of cases because people are living in such close proximity.”

H1N1 spread more widely this year than at any time since the ’09 pandemic, but besides people building up some natural immunity over time, vaccines have kept pace with changes in the viruses.

“The reason H1N1 had such a big impact in 2009 was because it was a new strain and there wasn’t any circulating immunity in the community,” Dr. Frankovich said. “The good thing is the vaccine this year contained protection against H1N1, so people had really decent protection.”

The CDC said in February that this year’s flu vaccine reduced a person’s chances of going to a doctor for flu illness by 60%.