Less common flu strain prominent this year in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Public health officials say a type of flu virus that’s usually less prevalent is being reported more frequently in Virginia this year.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that of the more than 1,800 cases confirmed by lab reports since the start of the 2019-2020 flu season, 75% have been identified as type B, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That trend is in line with national statistics.

Scott Pauley, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the newspaper it’s the first time since the 1992-1993 flu season that influenza B has been identified more often than influenza A nationally.

Pauley said that could mean a less severe season in terms of deaths, but still a strong one.

The CDC, which recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine, said it does not yet have vaccine effectiveness estimates for this season.

So far there have been 255 reported pneumonia- and influenza-associated deaths reported by the Virginia Health Department this flu season, the newspaper reported. There have not been any reported pediatric deaths.

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