In late January, more and more Americans began to experience symptoms of the influenza virus as flu season approached. This year more than other years, however, this particular virus stands as one of the worst outbreaks this country has ever seen.
An atypical amount of people have been hospitalized since the start of the flu season, around the third week of January. Additionally, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that there have been 37 pediatric deaths in America since October 1, 2017. They also reported that 51 out of 54 U.S. jurisdictions communicated the issue of widespread flu activity.
This season’s epidemic has proven to be more dangerous because of the dominant strand at work. According to The Washington Post, this season’s dominant strain (H3N2) is “the nastiest” and causes the worst outbreaks of both influenza A and influenza B (influenza B is found in humans only and is typically less harmful than influenza A, but can still be incredibly dangerous). The vaccine is only about 32 percent effective when dealing with H3N2.
According to Local 10 News, Gulf County in Northern Florida shut down schools on Friday due to an overwhelming amount of teachers calling in sick with the flu, and is now offering free vaccinations. A 12-year-old boy from Palm Beach County died from influenza B. While the monitored activity of influenza is currently mild in Broward County, its neighbor Dade County has been reported to be at moderate activity.
The flu can become deadly most commonly from bacterial pneumonia, according to CBS News. Bacterial pneumonia, or a bacterial infection of the lungs, is caused by the flu virus in that the virus causes inflammation of the lungs, making it easier for bacteria to enter. It causes breathing to be especially difficult in children.
Since this season’s flu strain has been so heavily broadcasted and reported on, more Americans are getting flu shots. During a season of less severity, public health officials try to get citizens to get their flu shot, but with little success. This decreases the immunity in the nation dramatically compared with the potential to immunity, which is part of the reason Americans are so encouraged to get their flu shot.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, headaches, fatigue, nausea, body aches or a runny or stuffy nose. The most at risk are children and the elderly, who are more often hospitalized, as well. Students should be cautious to make the right decisions to avoid getting the flu, as it could mean an extended time away from school and serious health risks.
Ways to avoid influenza, or sickness of any kind, include: washing hands often (not with the use of non-bacterial soap, however, as it kills the bacteria fighting the virus); drinking lots of fluids; eating right; avoiding the practice of sharing drinks with someone; avoiding the touching of the eyes, mouth and nose – and, of course, getting vaccinated.
Photo courtesy of WSVN News