The flu is behaving itself this winter . . . so far

February 16, 2014

Even with its snow and its ice, its cold and its gloom, Washington’s winter has lacked an important ingredient that can make a merely terrible winter into something even worse.

So far, judging by available information, the flu, which produces its own set of headaches and chills, seems to be — if not absent — at least in check.

In the latest week for which information was available, flu activity in Maryland and Virginia was described as moderate. Such a term cannot be applied to the other aspects of winter here.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the malady was widespread in both states, but what it called the intensity of “influenza-like illness” has not reached the most severe category. The CDC said there was insufficient data from the District to include in its update.

It appeared from CDC data that nationally, the peak of this flu season came at the end of last year, and that the incidence of the illness has been declining.

The trend in Maryland may not be that clear-cut, but it does seem to be heading downward. For the week ended Feb. 8, Maryland’s department of health reported 132 laboratory-confirmed flu cases.

That was a sharp decline from the 163 confirmed cases the week before. It was also well below the 189 confirmed cases in the week ended Jan. 11.

Information from Virginia’s health department, posted through Feb. 1, showed that a key indicator of flu intensity had declined for at least two consecutive weeks. The highest levels had been in Northern Virginia.

But although forecasts call for warmer weather in a few days, Washington has continued to experience wintry conditions, and at Dulles International Airport, February’s average temperature has been more than 5 degrees below normal.

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