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Douglas County Health Department data shows flu activity is low

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 4:59 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Health experts say positive flu cases could be historically low this season.

Data from the Douglas County Health Department shows that flu season can be a bit unpredictable. However, this season positive infections of the virus seem to be rare.

In Douglas County, three rapid influenza tests, and a PCR test have come back positive so far. In October 2019, 24 positive cases had already been confirmed.

“We are seeing record low numbers of influenza actually, both here in Nebraska and if you look at the national data to date,” said Dr. Kelly Cawcutt with Nebraska Medical Center.

Cawcutt said it’s likely that measures to protect people from COVID-19 like handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask is contributing to the low number of flu cases.

“When we put these things together, it’s not entirely surprising that we’re not seeing as much influenza,” she said.

Cawcutt said it is too early to know whether more people are also getting a flu shot.

Jim Quinley, a pharmacist at Kubat Pharmacy, said he has given out more flu shots this year.

“A lot of people just take their chances, but this year they’re not,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of people who have not had a flu shot in years come in and get a flu shot.”

Typically flu cases start to appear and rise in October through November. Then there is an uptick in December and January.

Cawcutt said an increase is still possible and is reminding people to continue following safety guidelines. She said it’s possible to get more than one infection at the same time.

“It doesn’t mean if you have COVID-19, you won’t get influenza if you’re exposed. We know when people have two infections at the same time, that tends to be worse with more severe disease,” she said.

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