Fever. Aches. Chills. Respiratory illness. All symtoms of influenza, and all felt by more and more Michiganians. Michigan's flu activity is classified as "regional" as of Friday, according to the state Department of Community Health.
Regional flu activity means the illness is popping up in public venues, like schools and hospitals. It is one classfication below "widespread," or epidemic levels.
Department of Community Health spokesman TJ Bucholz tells News 10 Michigan will reach epidemic flu activity, most likely within the next month. Currently, 24 states across the country as reporting epidemic flu levels. Until Friday, Michigan was reporting "local" flu levels.
There's no confirmation yet that the flu strain circulating in Michigan is Type-A Fujian, which is the strain dominant in other parts of the country. Michigan samples are at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, but it could take days to test the samples, due to a backlog. However, of the samples from around the country sent to the CDC, 78% have been confirmed Type-A Fujian.
In the meantime, there's good news for some people looking for a flu vaccine. Two major insurance companies, Etna and Cigna, are now covering FluMist. That's the nasal spray vaccine made of a weakened live flu virus. People between the ages of 5 and 49 are urged to get FluMist.
In most cases, the traditional shot is now reserved for people who fall into the "high risk" category. That covers the elderly, kids between 6 and 23 months old, people who are chronically ill or have compromised immune systems, and health care workers.
Thursday, the federal government bought up the last 250,000 flu vaccine doses from maker Aventis Pasteur, and will distribute those doses to local health care providers based on population and need.