Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Peak flu season starting now and may last longer, says doctor

As flu outbreak numbers rise, the HSE says it's not too late to get your vaccine Flu activity begins to spike across country
Anna Jefferson | 09 January, 2019, 20:24

A spokesperson for the HSE said that the best way to protect yourself is to get the flu vaccine.

On Monday, as the flu season progressed, the American Academy of Pediatrics released findings from five studies conducted from 2013-16, which show the nasal spray was less effective against influenza A than the injected form for all pediatric age groups.

The 2017/2018 influenza season was considered one of high severity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with high rates of emergency department visits and widespread flu activity over an extended period.

This year's flu season began in late October and is expected to last through March. Children who are free from cold and flu symptoms may be allowed to visit new siblings on the Obstetrics unit or Pediatric unit, but may be required to undergo screening for illness by staff before being allowed to visit.

And, the seasonal flu can "shift and mutate" each year, which is why there are various flu vaccines available. "Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes".

"Don't linger. Run, do not walk, and get your influenza vaccine because it does take 10 days to 2 weeks for the body to build up its maximum protection", said Schaffner.

So far this year, only 4,122 cases of flu in Missouri have been laboratory confirmed.

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"It's not just flu, but also other respiratory viruses", tweeted hospital CEO Alex Munter, "busy viral season".

The ages of those who had died ranged from 40 to 91 years old and all had records of chronic disease.

The policy also urges visitors to wash or sanitize hands frequently while at the hospital to prevent getting the flu or potentially spread any illness.

According to Cody, the individual who died had other medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe complications from the flu. "We're so used to the flu that we really underestimate it", Morse said.

Because the peak period came later this season, it is likely to extend to the middle or end of next month, he said.

As of December 29, 2018, 4.1 percent of the total clinic visits were due to influenza-like illness. Hospitals do not offer flu shots or routinely test for the flu.

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