Arizona flu season should be nearing an end, but more cases are on the rise

As we head into the end of May, an unusual wave is hitting our state: a wave of flu cases. It is highly unusual to see numbers this high in late May.

"I had a fever … chills … I was achy," said a student. "Like a lot of people at our school were out for it."

A late round of flu? We talked to some north central Phoenix high schoolers who say it hit them about a week ago.

The number of flu cases in Arizona back up the rare occurrence of a double wave of flu in our state.

"It's not like it's a terrible influenza year. It's just unusual to see it come in two separate waves. Sort of we'll give you half today and half in a few months as opposed to giving it all to us in a single bolus around the holidays," said Will Humble of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Humble says you can't miss the trend on the graph showing Arizona's flu numbers – the double peak is obvious. He and others in the medical community agree this has to do with the pandemic and masking habits.

(Arizona Dept. of Health Services)

"I don't remember a time ever that we've seen such a huge number of cases in May. This is really unusual. And I chalk it up to dropping of the mask mandates. Particularly on airlines. That's the reason we're seeing this spread right now," said Dr. Andrew Carroll, a family physician.

"I would attribute that really to the fact that we were wearing masks during that big Omicron wave that has a suppressed effect on transmission of influenza. Over the winter, we took the masks off and now the virus has a new opportunity before summer comes to really infect a few more people," said Humble.

Dr. Carroll says flu cases are slowing down this week as COVID-19 cases are rising. He encourages getting tested and treated.

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