Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

What's New this Flu Season?

What's New this Flu Season?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several strains of influenza virus are in circulation. The contagious disease can lead to hospitalization - and even death.

"Flu is increasing. We're seeing a pretty steep increase in influenza activity across the USA but especially in the South", said Brendan Flannery, a co-author of the new report and an epidemiologist in the CDC's flu division.

The report stated that Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Oklahoma have reported widespread activity during the week ending November 25.

The CDC recommends the vaccination for everyone six months old and older because there are thousands of flu-related deaths each year.

Experts believe the flu virus is spread when a sick person talks, sneezes or coughs.

Some symptoms of the flu include fever, cough and sore throat. Most people recover in less than two weeks.

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Although H3N2 is not as virulent as some other strains of flu, it mutates very easily, making it stronger against the body's immune system. "That black abyss is something that people can avoid if they would simply get the flu vaccine", said Pool.

But healthcare providers say you should still get the flu shot.

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Reports coming out of Australia, where the yearly flu strikes first, indicate 93,000 cases of H3N2, a subtype of influenza A. That's more than double the usual number of cases, and particularly worrisome given influenza A typically hits young children and the elderly the hardest.

However, doctors insist we can not underestimate the importance of "herd immunity", and that the shot may be more effective as lessening illness in those who do get sick.

Among health care workers who declined the vaccine, the most common reason is fear of experiencing side effects or getting sick from the vaccine. It's the single best way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from the flu this holiday season - and throughout the year.

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Numerous physicians' offices and pharmacies also have the flu vaccine available. DHEC encourages everyone to find the facility that works best for them.

"Because there is a risk, there should be a choice", Smith said.

And the vaccine is no guarantee of protection.

Each year, hundreds of thousands Americans are hospitalized for flu and thousands die, according to the CDC. Qualifying children and adolescents can receive flu vaccine provided by the Texas Vaccines for Children program. "There's still some protection against all flu illness in Australia last season".

It's too early to tell if H3N2 will continue to be the predominant strain or whether H1N1 will surpass it, Brammer said.

Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said lab testing in Ontario is turning up "quite a lot of B isolates, almost as many Bs as H3N2". Australian health records show an effectiveness of less than 10 per cent for the same vaccine used by Canada. The flu vaccine changes each year in anticipation of the strains mostly likely to predominate in the season ahead.

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