Friday, 22 March, 2019

Health unit confirms first local flu death of the winter

A child coughing A child coughing
Russell Knight | 08 January, 2018, 17:18

"We often see a season last three months, so there's still time to do it", Dr. Richard Zimmerman, a physician at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told Newsweek.

But the holiday season is over and it's time to get back to reality. Cold weather in much of the nation, which forces people indoors where germs more easily spread, and a vaccine that this year is believed to be only 10 to 33 percent effective, are being blamed. And you need to deal with it.

During the last week of 2017, "influenza activity increased sharply in the United States", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For instance, a deceased patient may have had the flu but died from another illness. But effectiveness can change from year to year, and officials are urging all those eligible to take up the vaccine.

Dr. Kristi Koenig, medical director of the county's emergency medical services system, said her office has been monitoring emergency room traffic on a near real-time basis for weeks and has seen many hospital have to bypass ambulance traffic from areas outside their core territories due to the number of flu patients arriving.

According to the CDC, 46 states reported widespread influenza activity.

Of the cases, 406 were confirmed influenza and 311 people were hospitalized - with more than half in the 65-plus age group.

One child was confirmed to have died of the flu during the last week of 2017.

All major hospital companies in the region, including Deaconess Health System, St. Vincent Evansville, St. Vincent Warrick and Henderson's Methodist, have instituted stricter visitation guidelines until the flu season passes.

The HSE has said that this season's flu jab "appears to be a moderate to good match for circulating virus strains, depending on the [Aussie flu] strain".

Only shots are advised this year.

This year's vaccine has been less effective than usual because it doesn't cover the strain that's going around.

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You may have heard that the flu that's doing the most damage this year is an H3N2 strain, and that it is less vulnerable to the vaccine.

Balusu says the best defense people can have against the flu is taking care of their bodies.

The "Aussie flu" strain is similar to the H3N2 strain that dominated last year's flu season in Ireland and Europe, the HSE said. If you're lucky, you may have mild symptoms like a cough and a runny nose.

In this file photo, a nurse gives administers a flu vaccine shot in Washington. Chang said. "It is not only important to get your vaccine but to make sure your friends and loved ones get it too".

"But you can't really do anything else", he said.

And if you do get a flu shot?

It does take a couple of weeks for those antibodies to develop, so some people may get sick soon after getting the shot. That just means those people waited too long to get vaccinated.

The Harvard folks also debunked nine other flu myths here.

The CDC asks everyone to fight back against influenza by helping prevent the spread of germs in general. "We restrict children 16 and under because they are more at risk for respiratory infections and are more likely to present a health risk to patients as they can't always contain their cough or their sneezes".

The HSE can confirm that there have been no fatalities as a result of the flu in the Mid-West this season.

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