A sudden surge of influenza cases on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus has drawn the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has now deployed a team of experts to investigate the outbreak.
Local health officials worked with the School of Public Health and Michigan Medicine researchers to identify the strain of flu behind the outbreak, concluding it was a subtype of influenza A virus called H3N2. Some 77.1% of the campus cases occurred in individuals who had not received this year's flu vaccine.
"While we often start to see some flu activity now, the size of this outbreak is unusual," Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, medical director with the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD), told The University Record. "This outbreak doesn't necessarily have an immediate impact on the broader local community, but it does raise concerns about what the flu season may bring."
The investigation team will assess how quickly the flu is spreading on campus and what factors appear to increase the risk of transmission. The team will also evaluate flu vaccination status in the campus community and collect swab samples from those infected with the flu, in order to examine the circulating strains of influenza virus. These data should give valuable insight into the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine and could provide clues as to what flu season might look like for the rest of the country, according to The University Record.
As the investigation unfolds, "most importantly, we strongly recommend anyone not yet vaccinated against seasonal flu to do so," Marquez told The University Record. "And anyone at higher risk of severe flu complications should talk to their doctor about prescription antiviral medications at the first sign of flu symptoms."
Read more about the University of Michigan flu outbreak in The University Record.
Originally published on Live Science.