For the last couple of years, we’ve basically skipped over flu season thanks to Covid restrictions and mask mandates. And while most of that was a massive pain in the neck, it was kind of nice to skip over the part of parenting where my kids came home from school with new colds and flu each week.
And now, NPR is reporting that scientists are in a heated debate over just how weak Covid has become.
Some argue that Covid is basically less lethal than the flu now.
And that’s because we had to suffer our collective way through several pretty scary variants.
So, does this mean we’re finally going to have a normal winter? Well…kind of.
A Bad Flu is Coming
Flu season in the US typically starts around October and ramps up throughout the winter, peaking in late February. That’s because most of us spend all our time inside where it’s warm, but it is also super easy to spread nasty germs.
To determine how bad a flu season is going to be, doctors in the northern hemisphere look to our neighbors down under to see how they faired first since their flu season is generally ending by the time ours begins.
This year, unfortunately, Australia saw a severe flu season that was its worst in five years.
According to an annual flu tracker report published by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, the flu season was strong and severe but also apparently quick and over sooner than expected.
Aussies were hit fast and hard at the head of the season, but then rates dropped two months earlier than expected.
The CDC warns that kids, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are the most at-risk groups for catching the flu.
That’s why doctors say it’s wise to get your flu shot now—or at least by Halloween—to avoid catching the nasty bug.
Experts at the CDC also say that flu shots received in July or August are basically useless for most adults (but not all) by the time fall rolls around, and to get the updated flu vaccine now.
While you’re at it, you can safely get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, which is safe to take at the same time as the flu shot.
Parents Being Warned About Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)
The CDC is warning doctors and parents about a concerning rise in enterovirus D68 (EV-D^*). Not sure what that is?
The most famous enterovirus is polio.
But we are talking about non-polio EV-D68, which, although rarely deadly, is still one helluva scary virus if your kids catch it.
According to the CDC, non-polio enterovirus is extremely common and affects up to 15 million Americans annually, but this year doctors are being asked to look out for kids with worrying symptoms that include dangerous upper respiratory infections.
When kids catch enterovirus, it generally presents like a mild cold and includes symptoms such as:
- runny nose
- body aches
- muscles aches
But if your child doesn’t seem to be getting better after the typical 10-day recovery period, you may want to call your doctor and have them screened for EV-D68.
The CDC and doctors are particularly concerned about severe symptoms and say that if you see any of these to seek immediate medical attention:
- arm or leg weakness
- pain in the neck, back, arms, or legs
- difficulty swallowing or slurred speech
- difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids
- facial droop or weakness
It’s also important to note that the EV-D68 disease spreads very easily.
The CDC notes that it passes from person to person, and someone who is sick coughs or sneezes or touches a surface that is then touched by other folks.
To that end, to prevent catching EV-D68 (or really any nasty germs), make sure your kids (and you!) wash hands for 20 seconds and regularly disinfect high-traffic areas like doorknobs, cell phones, and remote controls.
If your child has symptoms of anything, try to keep them home or consider masking them up to stop the germs from spreading.
The 2023 winter season may be the closest to normal that we’ve had in a while, but it also means getting coy with germs that we haven’t had to deal with in a long time.
Stay hydrated, and warm, get plenty of rest, and avoid peopling if you feel gross.
You know the drill.
Stay healthy, folks!