Federal public health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating “a large and sudden increase in influenza among students,” the University of Michigan announced this week.
Numbers have exploded since the first case was recorded on October 6, with the campus reporting over 500 cases this week. A striking 77 percent of those infected are unvaccinated, officials said.
Dr. Emily Martin told The New York Times that rising numbers could be a result of the delay in detection since more students sought COVID tests due to overlapping symptoms. However, she said, “it’s a great opportunity to get a good early signal on what vaccine effectiveness is right now, what strains are circulating, and what it could forecast for the rest of the country.”
The “unusual” outbreak comes ahead of the Thanksgiving break. The university is asking the entire community to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the people around them.
Juan Luis Marquez, medical director at the Washtenaw County Health Department, said it’s normal to have flu cases spiking during this time of the year. The flu outbreak at UM is the “first significant” flu activity of the 2021-22 season, the CDC reported.
“This outbreak doesn’t necessarily have an immediate impact on the broader local community. We strongly recommend anyone not yet vaccinated against seasonal flu to do so,” Marquez said.