Health Department Says New Mexico Sees Late-Season Spike In Flu Cases

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As Covid mandates begin to ease and cases decline, the Health Department says it is seeing a late-season spike in another virus. “Generally around this time, we would expect these rates to decline,” said UNMH epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Brett. But Brett explains that’s not the case with the flu this year.

As Covid mandates begin to ease and cases decline, the Department of Health says it is seeing a late-season spike in another virus. “Generally around this time, we would expect these rates to decline,” said UNMH epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Brett. But Brett explains that’s not the case with the flu this year.

“What we’ve seen since early February is that flu rates have gone up,” Dr Brett explained. Dr Brett says a typical flu season starts around September and peaks in January or February. According to the Ministry of Health, at the end of April, almost 6% of hospital visits were related to the flu.

“It’s very unusual to have this much flu at this time of year,” Dr Brett explained. She says some things could be contributing to the late rise in cases, including the fact that most people are no longer wearing masks. Dr. Brett says the effectiveness of this year’s flu vaccine also plays a role.

“Vaccine efficacy this year was low,” Dr. Brett said. “That means the vaccine strain didn’t match what’s been circulating,” she explained. “You get less protection than a regular flu shot,” she told KRQE News 13.

Dr. Brett says she thinks the flu could linger for at least a few more months, and she encourages everyone, if they haven’t already, to get a flu shot. She says that although the spike in cases is high and unusual for this time of year, the number of flu-related hospitalizations is low.

Lillian L. Pena