17 cases of flu reported nationwide last week, down from 15,368 a year ago


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We’re getting to what is usually the peak of flu season, but this year the flu is almost nonexistent. 

CDC maps tracking the spread of the flu show, at a time when flu is usually high or very high in every state in the nation, that cases this year are minimal.

In fact, last week there were only 17 new reported cases of influenza A and B combined anywhere in the nation, out of more than 40,000 tests. That’s compared to the same week last year when there more than 15,000 cases reported and more than 200,000 total cases at this point in the flu season. 

Pediatrician Dr. Stephen Lauer told doctors on a recent University of Kansas Health System media call that, unlike COVID-19, children are the biggest spreaders of flu to their families who then might take it to their workplace.

“This year, that pathway has really been cut off dramatically with hand washing, masking and a lot more at-home schooling and a lot more at-home daycare.”

FOX4 went to the Country Club Plaza to speak to people about the near disappearance of the flu.

“It’s crazy right? Because usually we hear about the flu this time of year, and we really haven’t heard about it,” Isis Jenkins said. 

Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer for KU Health System, said this is the biggest evidence for the efficacy of masks and other rules of infection control to date.

Although plenty of people are wondering when enough people might be vaccinated against COVID-19 to end mask ordinances, there are recommendations in the medical community that disease-fighting practices continue, especially in future flu seasons. 

“We should continue to do this stuff to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Christopher Slifer said.

“It’s been engrained, and it hopefully becomes a habit for some that sticks around,” Jenkins said of Americans newfound health consciousness. 

Stites also asked Lauer: “Is it bad for kids to not get sick with RSV and influenza, does that weaken their immune system?”

“No, they are fine. They have plenty of challenges, and if they can avoid the serious infection, their immune system will be fine,” he responded. 

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