Health department sees increase in seasonal flu activity

09 Janvier, 2019, 20:26 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

Last year, the flu killed more than 80,000 Americans, including a record 185 children.

The child - from Central Jersey - died in late December. "It's still low in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 22 of our 50 states, but that will change as the season progresses", Stephen Morse, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in NY, told Healthline.

The flu season is considered to run from October 1 to about May 20.

"We're hoping its a good sign that it will be a less severe year but there's really no way to know until the season is over". At the same time a year ago, 17,182 cases had been confirmed in the state. The H1N1 virus generally produces milder infections like Australia had last season.

"So we're probably on track to coming up to more of our peak activity in the next couple of weeks or so".

The HSE is urging all people in at-risk groups for the flu to get vaccinated if they have not done so already. H3N2, the strain largely responsible for last year's outbreak, has so far been less common than the H1N1 strain.

The program is aimed at reducing morbidity, complications and mortality from seasonal influenza by improving the immunization coverage of people aged 65 and over, as well as by raising the awareness of the population of the risk of influenza and related complications and ways of prevention, the statement said. "We're starting to see a little bit more".

Should people still get vaccinated? . "Influenza is always unsafe", Schaffner said. "This year's vaccine is a good match for circulating strains and it is not too late to get the vaccine". The CDC recommends the vaccine for anyone over the age of 6 months old, he added.

Health officials are urging residents to get a flu vaccine, as it is the best way to protect yourself against the potentially unsafe virus. The vaccination can reduce symptoms and duration even if you get the flu. Most family physicians, pediatrician offices, primary care clinics and pharmacies offer the influenza vaccine.

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

Although not a ideal vaccine, Morse says the average person may not realize just how important a role the influenza vaccine plays in public health.

The flu spreads "mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. This is called 'herd immunity, '" he explained.

Moore said physicians at CHEO are seeing cases of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and other viruses as well as some flu.

Many people also don't realize how serious the effects can be.

It also highlights the need for influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates and the importance of the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network in providing updated information for committee recommendations, he said. Hospitals do not offer flu shots or routinely test for the flu.

Dr. Steve McLaughlin, emergency medicine department chairman at the University of New Mexico, says the illness spiked quickly and was accounting for 10-15 percent of all visits to the UNM emergency room.

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

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