February is usually the peak of influenza season in Arizona, but this year, flu cases have nearly vanished. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has reported just over 800 cases of the flu so far this year. The average for this time of year is almost 13,000 cases. That’s a 94 percent drop.
Cara Christ is the department’s director. She says, "A lot of the measures that are put in place for COVID-19, including wearing a mask, staying physically distant, staying home when you’re sick, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, also work for influenza. So we think those measures are having a lot of impact on the spread of influenza."
Arizona’s drop in influenza rates is mirrored nationwide and around the world. Christ cautions the flu season is unpredictable and says it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. The flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, but health experts say COVID-19 is both more contagious and more deadly.