Flu season reported to peak in the coming weeks
So far this year’s flu season has been shaping up to be one of the most widespread on record in the US. Health officials have reported that the flu has caused the death of more children than what normally would be expected of a flu season. In the second week of January, the number of people seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms heavily outweighed previous years. The CDC had recently reported that ten children had died, bringing the total number of child flu-related deaths to 30 this season. In addition, over 8,900 people have been hospitalized, with laboratory tests confirming influenza infection.
Each flu season, different influenza strains pop up around the country, and this year, the most common strain happens to be one of the worst. Referred to as H3N2, this strain is capable of producing the worst kind of outbreaks of the two influenza A viruses and the two types of influenza B viruses. It is responsible for many seasonal flu epidemics around the country, and is associated with more illness, hospitalizations, and death than other strains. The most commonly affected by this strain of the flu include children and the elderly, as well as those with chronic illnesses.
The CDC has estimated that every year the flu causes somewhere between 9-35 million illnesses, with 12,000-56,000 deaths each year. CDC flu expert Daniel Jernigan said, “Of the viruses we hate, we hate H3N2 more than the other ones.” He cites the cause of its lethal nature is the fact it is able to adapt quickly in order to penetrate the defense of the immune system in the human body.
With the advances in modern medicine, and a sturdy health infrastructure in our country, it begs the question of why we are seeing so many deaths each year caused by the flu? Well, there are three common ways in which someone can die from the flu.
This can be caused by an influenza infection, causing a person to develop inflammation in their chest, which in turns causes difficulty breathing. Dr. William Schafer of Vanderbilt University said, “this is a long, drawn-out process” and is typically the most common cause of death.
When infected with flu, the body will elicit an immune system response by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the infection. Sometimes, however, this response can be too overwhelming to the body, causing sepsis, and can be the cause of death for even the healthiest of individuals.
Those infected with the flu have 6 times the chance of having a heart attack. The risk is typically more common for adults over 35. Flu symptoms can cause inflammation, stress and constriction of blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure and lead to heart attack.
The CDC and physicians recommend this season’s flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. It has been proven to reduce infection rates in a population, as well as cut down on hospitalizations, especially among children and the elderly. While they are not guaranteed to protect you from contracting the flu, it is the best line of defense you can take in protecting yourself.
This flu season is expected to continue on through February, with health officials expecting a peak of activity to occur in the coming weeks. It is now more important than ever to practice good hygiene. Preventing the spread of germs is the single most important thing you can do.