Published: Sun, February 18, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

NMDOH: Flu season deaths tracking higher than past year

NMDOH: Flu season deaths tracking higher than past year

The current flu outbreak is a mixture of three strains: H3N2, H1N1, and influenza B. The most active and unsafe strain, H3N2, has started to decline in lab reports, while influenza B infections have started to ramp up, prolonging the flu season, which could last for an estimated 20 weeks. The 2017-2018 flu shot is only 36% effective against influenza A and B, which encompasses H3N2, the problematic flu strain that's been circulating widely this year.

HMS reported 80 confirmed flu cases this season and Silver Health Care did not respond to a request for information.

"I wish there was better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC and Prevention said. Officials say the this bad flu season will likely continue. Vaccines use a live strain of the virus harvested from eggs in a laboratory. That's significant, he said, because the vaccine does a better job against influenza B, protecting about 42 percent of the time.

According to CDC's most recent weekly data, the percentage of doctor and emergency room visits for flu-like illnesses (at about 7.5 percent) this week didn't increase, for the first time in about two months.

Of course, your child can still get the flu despite your best efforts. "During the 2014-15 season, when [vaccine effectiveness] against medically attended illness caused by any influenza virus was less than 20%, vaccination was estimated to prevent 11,000-144,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 300-4,000 influenza-associated deaths".

The season may continue for several more weeks, she added.

Virginia does not track adult flu-related deaths. For the week ending February 10, participating providers reported that 8.5 percent of all patient visits were for influenza-like illness.

The flu in Colorado, based on hospitalizations, peaked in the last week of December, with the majority of those cases being Influenza A. The CDC does not have specific numbers on adult deaths but relies on centers throughout the country that provides nationally representative samples of flu deaths and put in proportion with the total number of deaths around the country. Still, the CDC says half of children hospitalized with flu complications this season were healthy, and had no underlying health issues, before they got sick. Go get a flu shot. Even though the vaccine is not as powerful as officials hoped, it can lessen the illness's severity, keep people out of the hospital, and save lives.

The CDC tested the now approved antiviral medications oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab) and zanamivir (Relenza Diskhaler) against the now circulating flu strains. The heat will make your nose run and your forehead sweat, and give you a productive cough, to help clear you up. "If you have to take three pills a day, I can guarantee you won't get three pills in a day on most days".

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