Flu almost nonexistent amidst pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has meant influenza hasn't been able to get a hold of the population.

Influenza has been all but nonexistent in Michigan this year thanks to efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

One year ago, the flu was considered a widespread problem in Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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During the third week of January 2020, health researchers counted 321 people who visited a doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms. The same time period this year only turned up 24.

Experts say the drop in influenza infections may be due to the same things that are keeping the coronavirus at bay – mainly social isolation.

The closure of many school districts during the early part of the 2020-21 school year robbed the flu virus of one of its most important vectors of transmission. Without crowds of children to transmit the virus, influenza has had nowhere to go.

The same goes for other measures meant to stop the coronavirus. Masks, social distancing, and hand washing have all stopped influenza in its tracks.

Still, it could also be just dumb luck, according to Dr. Frank Rosenblat, an infectious disease specialist for McLaren Health Care.

“We assume a lot of [the decline in flu] is because of social distancing and working and going to school remotely and all of that,” he said in an interview with MLive. “But we can’t totally discount the possibility that maybe we just had a really good year in terms of the flu vaccine, and that’s helping with everything.”

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