Editorial: Flu season is winding on down

Feb. 11, 2013 @ 05:00 PM

Don’t let your guard down, not for a second.

But there’s good news out of the medical community this past weekend. Observers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the worst of the flu season is now behind us.

And that’s some good news we can all welcome.

Precautions should still be taken, just from the standpoint of common sense and good practice. Hand washing, where we point our coughs, diligence around public areas like restrooms and even grocery carts — all are worth maintaining throughout the year.

Admittedly, we know many who do the extra step during winter either in hopes of not picking up something or to take a measure of precaution for helping others.

Flu season this winter worried officials who track and measure activity because it got off to a quick start, earlier than normal in December. It was on par with 2003-04, when one of the deadliest seasons in the last 40 years included 48,000 deaths.

The average number of deaths annually is about 24,000.

More people today than nine years ago get flu shots. And the shots are formulated differently each year, with adjustments made to combat newer strains of the virus that are circulating. A preliminary study by the CDC on this year’s flu shot shows it is about 60 percent effective, which is about average.

The season is being called moderately severe. We tend to think of it in everyman’s terms, such as we do with major surgery and minor surgery — which, it’s major when it’s us. Flu season is severe when we’re regularly encountering our family and friends already sick, or we’ve been knocked for a loop by it ourselves.

Thankfully, the CDC can measure it more objectively.

The CDC reports states with intense activity are now at 19, down from 24, and flu is widespread in 38 states, down from 42.

We’re not on the list of a half-dozen states where flu is considered minimal. Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire and South Carolina are those lucky ones. But we’re hopeful to get there soon.

Meantime, we encourage maintaining the good practices.