Wed, 14 Apr 2021

NEW YORK, New York - Experts are searching for an answer as to what caused the flu to virtually disappear this year as a health concern in the United States.

Of course, the wearing of masks, social distancing, closing of schools and reductions in travel are the obvious factors.

But doctors are also wondering if Covid has simply overwhelmed the normal flu strains seen each year.

"This is the lowest flu season we've had on record," Lynnette Brammer, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press.

Similarly, the head of the emergency department at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Nate Mick, said, "I have seen zero documented flu cases this winter."

In normal years, flu is the cause of between 50,000 to 60,000 deaths per year in the United States. It is also responsible for up to 800,000 hospitalizations per year.

Outside of the United States, countries report very few flu cases in China, Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. Similar reports came from South Africa and Australia during their winter months of May through August.

"Many parents will tell you that this year their kids have been as healthy as they've ever been, because they're not swimming in the germ pool at school or day care, the same way they were in prior years," Mick said.

Yet, a problem some doctors are acknowledging is their inability to plan for next year's flu strain, because they have virtually no data from this season.

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