Are flu cases rising in Nebraska? What to expect for the 2023 season

Young man blowing his nose

Cases of influenza are rising in Nebraska and all over the country.

Before COVID-19, the flu season would typically peak in January or February. This season, flu cases started rising earlier than typical and continue to grow rapidly

On an activity scale from "minimal" to "very high," Nebraska is in the "very high" category as of December 2022. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interactive weekly influenza report by state.

Why are flu rates increasing?

Experts aren't entirely sure, but there is speculation that a lack of mask-wearing and social distancing may be partially to blame. Competitive interactions between different respiratory viruses are not well understood either. We’ve seen very mild flu seasons over the last several years while COVID-19 has circulated widely.  

Are there different kinds of flu?

There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D. Type A and B are the viruses that cause the most human illnesses and are responsible for the seasonal flu.

What type of flu is going around this year?

The type A H3N2 virus is the predominant influenza strain so far, according to Mark Rupp, MD, Nebraska Medicine infectious diseases physician. Type A H3N2 tends to cause more severe illness than H1N1 or type B strains.

What kind of flu virus does this year's vaccine protect against?

This season's flu vaccine protects against the four (quadrivalent) influenza viruses that research indicates will be the most common:

  • Influenza A (H1N1) 
  • Influenza A (H3N2) 
  • Two influenza B strains

Vaccination is crucial for those with obesity, a history of heart disease or stroke, diabetes, asthma or lung disease, immunosuppression or those who are pregnant. Learn how to get a free flu shot on campus.

Influenza, COVID-19 or RSV? How do I know which one I have?

Since the main symptoms are similar, including symptoms for the respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, it isn't easy to know what you're dealing with without testing. You can also be infected by more than one virus at a time. Because treatment is most effective within the first few days of symptom onset, call the University Health Center at 402.472.5000 so you can receive the best treatment option. 

How can I reduce my risk?

Consider if an activity is worth the risk for you and others. Continue to take common sense precautions when preparing for gatherings, including:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water
  • Wear a mask when in public, indoors and when using public transportation
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
What should I do if I feel sick?

If you have flu symptoms, stay home and keep your distance from others. Call the University Health Center at 402.472.5000 to make an appointment.