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Flu Cases Nearing Numbers From 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak

Flu Cases Nearing Numbers From 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak

That's no surprise. Australia and Canada had already released dismal effectiveness numbers - 10 and 17 percent respectively - against the H3N2 flu, a strain that is notoriously resistant to typical vaccines.

The estimates are based on a relatively small sample of medically attended acute respiratory illness among 4,562 children and adults enrolled at five sites in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network.

"The way I liken it is, if you don't have a flu shot you might fall off a three story building, and if you have a flu shot and get the flu, you might fall off a three foot building".

It's not too late to get a flu shot, but McMahan suggested people first call their doctor or pharmacist to check availability.

This year's flu season is the worst in a decade. Circulating flu strains this season are a mix of H3N2, H1N1 and B viruses. Despite medical professionals' almost universal recommendation that patients get the flu vaccination, the percentage of those who opt out continues to rise. "It's better than nothing", she said.

"Even if it is 30 percent effective, that's still better than no protection", she says. Everybody else got no statistically significant benefit. In recent weeks, the B and H1N1 viruses have been common-and vaccinations against H1N1 have shown a 67 percent rate of effectiveness.

During the same period, public health laboratories tested 51,014 specimens for influenza virus, of which 84.1% (n=23,257) tested positive for influenza A and 15.9% (n=4,412) tested positive for influenza B viruses. "Treatment with influenza antiviral medications, where appropriate, is especially important this season", they conclude.




"Often the deaths come because someone had influenza and then a complication of an underlying chronic disease, or just they're very elderly and then a death may occur days to weeks after their flu infection", Dr. Strang said. Flu strains mutate every year.

"CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination because the vaccine can still prevent some infections with now circulating influenza viruses, which are expected to continue circulating for several weeks", the agency said in its report. The CDC estimated that it had led to more than 17,000 hospitalizations through February 3.

Unfortunately, the CDC says we still may not be at the peak of flu season yet.

There have been record-breaking numbers this season in Oklahoma with 3,440 flu-associated hospitalizations, and 153 deaths. In the US, cases of influenza started to rise in early November 2017 and increased sharply from December 2017 through February 3, 2018.

Of those who did have influenza, 43 percent had been vaccinated. Many others have been hospitalized after contracting flu-like symptoms. Most of the East Coast is still socked in with high flu activity. The percentage of visits to emergency departments and admissions to hospitals from emergency departments continued to climb, though not as rapidly as in the previous week. Sixteen flu-related deaths were reported, bringing the state total so far this season to 107.

The new year has certainly had a rough start - in addition to natural disaster and political turmoil, 2018 has also become host to a severe flu season.

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