The flu virus has taken a holiday, but it must have been a bad one since it has returned with a vengeance. It’s spreading to more states and has took the lives of six more children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed the death toll at 21 children.
This is practically an all H3N2 strain season, also known as Influenza A. This strain is more lethal compared to previous ones and, to confound matters, the present flu vaccine is ineffective against it. There’s not much that people can rely on to protect them from the deadly mutating virus.
It was declared to have taken epidemic status last Dec. 20. The number of cases then took a slight downward turn the following week. The virus returned since and has expanded its presence from 36 states to 43, ravaging 7 more states. This is according to a report just released by the CDC.
Health officials revealed that as of today, there are 3,441 hospital admissions, all connected with the flu infection. All these cases went under lab testing and proved positive to the H3N2 virus.
The disease is particularly fatal to children and older people; they should be hospitalized immediately when symptoms start to manifest.
The standard baseline for doctor checkups is only 2%; but as of December 27, doctor visits have increased to 6% for flu-related symptoms. For six straight weeks, the number of doctors’ visits for similar conditions were consistently above the accepted norm. CDC revealed that flu seasons usually occurs for 13 weeks on average. This means that the present flu season may not have reached the fifty percent mark of its usual run.
It is for this reason that CDC officials are encouraging people to take the flu shots even if the protection it offers comes only two weeks later. Michael Jhung, medical officer at the CDC’s influenza division, continued that the vaccine can help reduce the virulence of the flu virus even if it’s not the best option available for the dominant strain this season.
Drinking antiviral medicines is advised for all, especially for the old, the very young, and those suffering from asthma or diabetes, Jung explained. He continued that it is crucial to take medicine right away. He suggested Tamiflu and Relenza, bought only with a doctor’s prescription, which are very effective at reducing the symptoms, more so when taking them not after a day or two of the onset. “If you can do it under 24 hours, it’s going to be better for the patient,” Jhung says.