It’s official. According to the CDC, the flu has reached epidemic proportions. It will be prudent for everyone to take the necessary precautions when in crowded places. Practicing essential cleaning routines will also help a lot and taking flu shots should be a priority.
The condition in the Sacramento area is not encouraging as the flu activity there has been on the rise for the past two weeks according to the nation’s number one contagious disease authority.
Californians, for several years, have had a sort of early warning on severe the flu season will be by observing how hard it hits the states east of the Rockies.
By December 21, 15 children succumbed to flu in the upper Midwest and Southern states. This is the latest bulletin issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC epidemiologists revealed that a week before that four other children had died.
The dominant strain this year, according to experts, is Influenza A H3N2, which is exceptionally fatal to children and individuals who are 65 or older.
The flu virus has been getting more difficult to deal with since it has been mutating into a more deadly type: the H3N2 virus. It’s impervious to this year’s vaccine which was designed to deal with it.
However, it’s highly advisable to get the flu vaccine for any advantages that it may offer with the possibility that there is an overlap among the flu virus strains.
“The flu vaccine is not a total waste,” said Dr. Stuart Cohen, chief of infectious diseases at UC Davis Medical systems. “I’m still giving it to my patients.
“It’s only a modest change in the virus between what’s in the vaccine and what’s out there circulating,” Cohen said. “I wouldn’t totally give up on the vaccine.”
Two thirds of the respiratory flu virus strains that are creating havoc all over the country have altered genetic sequences. This is Cohen’s estimate.
The antibodies made by the vaccine are unable to recognize and, therefore, attack the virus which it was meant to neutralize.
What really happened here is the antibodies will not be able to see the altered virus, exposing the immune system to the adverse effects of the unseen enemy, allowing it to march right to where it can do its worst.
In the early part of December, CDC head Tom Frieden issued a warning that the coming flu season could be a terrible one due to mutations.
It was too late then for experts to formulate a new vaccine that would be effective against the H3N2s mutant. It would have been highly suited for the 2014-2015 flu season as intended.
“It’s definitely spreading among families,” Dr. Randy Bergen, the chief of infectious diseases for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, said, “judging by the volume of queries coming into the health system’s call centers.”
“The numbers nationwide are worrisome,” Bergen continued, “for the number of tragic cases of otherwise healthy young people falling ill.”
“Older people are asking if they should get a second flu shot to boost their immune systems to a level equal to that prompted by a high-dose vaccine”, he said.
“The answer is no; a second flu shot in any season would be ill-advised by any doctor”, he added.