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Where's The Flu? Health Experts Say COVID Protocols Have Tremendously Limited Its Spread

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With so much focus on COVID, you may notice there's been hardly any talk about people getting the flu.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty says there's a reason for that.

"It's because of what we've done to try to control COVID that lead to a huge reduction in influenza worldwide," she said.

According to Centers for Disease Control website, two years ago there were 35 million flu cases, 490,000 hospitalizations and 34,000 related deaths.

If you look at the CDC tracking map, you'd see all green – meaning low or no flu cases nationwide.

Of the 382,000 flu tests, there's only 218 confirmed cases nationwide. And there's been one pediatric death nationwide this flu season.

"Just the distance alone helps tremendously in reducing the spread of influenza. The lack of shaking hands. Shaking hands has always been a wonderful way of transmitting influenza. We're not doing that these days," Dr. Marty said.

Unknowingly, masks, social distance, washing hands and staying home has crushed the flu season to something we haven't seen in decades.

In the state of Florida, the reduction in flu cases has been exponential.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the entire state is green, which indicates super low flu numbers.

There are one to two flu cases in just four counties.

Broward Health has seen only a few cases.

"There's no question it's down, low prevalence – and that's across the board. That's Broward, South Florida, nationwide to be honest," said Dr. Evan Boyar.

Dr. Boyar, the director of emergency services at Broward Health, has treated fewer patients for the flu this season.

He still encourages his patients to get the flu shot and mitigate exposure by following COVID protocol.

So have we eradicated the flu? No. But Dr. Boyar believes we know what works to prevent the flu, and we're better situated to deal with future flu seasons.

"I think in general we're in better position to handle that. Whether that's how we educate our patients on whether the seek or implement a telehealth visit versus a real time visit. Whether it's things we discuss to mitigate these types of illnesses," he said.

Dr. Boyar expects to see a spike in flu numbers next season – especially with kids heading back to school and adults heading back to work.

It's how we conduct ourselves that will make a difference.

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