Public Health Experts are looking into an influenza outbreak at a Michigan university that has resulted in over 500 cases, as well as flu activity at numerous other colleges. Since Oct. 6, the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus in Washtenaw County has reported over 525 cases among students, with nearly three-quarters of them among those who have not been vaccinated against the flu, according to school officials. Nearly all of the instances have been recorded in the last two weeks, according to the university, which is tracking a “huge and rapid surge” in cases. “While we often start to see some flu activity now, the size of this outbreak is unusual,” Juan Luis Marquez, medical director at the Washtenaw County Health Department, said in a statement.
A team from the CDC is assisting the university, as well as local and state health departments, in investigating the outbreak, including how the virus is spreading. In the midst of the outbreak, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging individuals to obtain the flu vaccine, as vaccine administrations are down by roughly 26% year over year and COVID-19 cases are on the rise. COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise in Michigan, with case rates, positive rates, hospitalizations, and deaths all on the rise.
Following last season’s modest flu activity, Public Health Experts have cautioned that this flu season could be more severe. According to the CDC, flu occurrences decreased significantly during the 2020-2021 season, owing in part to people wearing masks, exercising frequent hand cleanliness, and socially isolating themselves to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. As we approach respiratory virus season, it’s critical to take all precaution we can to avoid flu, RSV, and COVID-19 outbreaks. Using masks, washing hands, social distancing, and receiving flu and COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent the transmission of sickness.