Medical

Holidays are 'peak' time for flu season; ERs busy

Holidays are 'peak' time for flu season; ERs busy

According to the CDC, there are four types of influenza viruses: A, which has various sub types and strains, B, which also has various strains, C and D, with human influenza A and B viruses the cause of the seasonal epidemics of the disease in this country.

It's that time of year again: Flu Season!

Fifty-four percent of the influenza-like illness specimens submitted to the Indiana State Department of Health's laboratory tested positive for flu in the week ending on December 2.

The largest number of flu-related hospitalizations has been reported among persons age 65 and older (44 percent) followed by 50-64 years (21 percent) and children from birth to 4 years (15 percent). Additionally, studies show that the influenza vaccine can make the illness milder in certain cases where an individual was vaccinated but still contracted influenza.

Australia had not only record high numbers of flu cases, hospitalizations and deaths, but also a flu shot that doesn't seem to be a good match for the predominant strains.

Over the past week in North Dakota, there were 104 new cases of the flu.

In Texas, 5.6 percent of patients presented with influenza-like illness, below the statewide baseline of 6.3 percent for the past week.

To fight the flu, the CDC and local health department recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs and taking flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

"Among the general population, about 39 percent have received the vaccine", said Stokley, co-author of a new CDC report that canvased people by phone and internet in early November. Most people recover in less than two weeks.

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? "The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot, wash your hands, and avoid people who have a fever or cough".

Infants and pregnant women, particularly those in the second and third trimesters, are most vulnerable to developing complications, according to the CDC.

"We are seeing a steadily increasing number of patients with influenza in the community and in the hospital", said Steve Lawrence, MD, Washington University infectious disease expert at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Australia's flu season runs from April through October.

Many mothers-to-be, though, have not heeded this advice.

Earlier research estimated the death toll to range anywhere from 250,000-500,000 deaths from all illnesses related to the flu.


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