CDC investigates flu outbreak at University of Michigan

Federal public health officials investigate “large and sudden” flu outbreak among students at University of Michigan, university announc...


Federal public health officials investigate “large and sudden” flu outbreak among students at University of Michigan, university announcement this week.

Since October, there have been 528 flu cases on the Ann Arbor campus, a large majority – 77% – occurring in students who have not been vaccinated against the flu. The spread of the disease has accelerated in recent weeks, according to the university.

Experts from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were on campus this week to help university officials and local health authorities analyze the outbreak and assess the effectiveness of this year’s flu shots .

Emily Martin, an associate professor of epidemiology at the university’s School of Public Health participating in the investigation, said the current number of cases was significant, especially compared to those in recent years. She added that the university could identify more cases of the flu this year because students were looking for tests for symptoms that overlap with Covid-19.

“This is a great opportunity to get a good early signal on the current efficacy of the vaccine, the strains in circulation, which it could predict for the rest of the country,” said Dr Martin.

Nationally, the flu infection rate remains low, but the CDC said this week it had received reports of spread among college-aged adults. Epidemics such as the one at the University of Michigan represent “first significant activity” of this year’s flu season, agency says said in a press release. The flu season typically begins in October and can last until May, the agency said.

The University of Michigan outbreak is the only college campus investigation that the CDC is currently involved in, said Kate Grusich, a spokesperson for the agency.

The university and local health authorities have asked for the agency’s help, Dr Martin said, adding that the investigation was a joint effort.

In Michigan, 2.2 million doses of the flu vaccine were administered this year, a figure that represents about 22% of the state’s population, according to state data. Immunization rates have lagged in all age groups compared to the previous two years.

In Washtenaw County, which includes Ann Arbor, about one in three people have a flu shot, data shows.

An estimated 43.2 million influenza vaccines had been administered nationwide in pharmacies and doctor’s offices to people 18 years of age or older as of the end of October, Ms. Grusich said. About 62.4 million doses were administered during the same period last year, she said.

Experts said last year’s flu season was mild compared to previous years, as precautions people took to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including masking and social distancing, have helped prevent the spread of influenza.

Dr Martin said the university was hearing from students who were confused about how the flu vaccine and Covid-19 vaccines might interact. She encouraged students to get vaccinated with both vaccines, noting that they have distinct advantages.

“One does not replace the other,” she says.

A recent poll by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease found that four in 10 Americans were either unsure of the flu vaccine or did not intend to receive it. About a third of the 1,000 people surveyed said they were more worried about contracting Covid-19 than the flu.

But experts have warned that this year could be different and that little is known about the interaction of Covid-19 and influenza. The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months of age or older get a flu shot.

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Newsrust - US Top News: CDC investigates flu outbreak at University of Michigan
CDC investigates flu outbreak at University of Michigan
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