Monday, December 4, 2017

It's early December and the flu is on the move!

A number of factors may make the 2017-18 season for flu something rather special! Already, the bug is showing up in more states than is 'normal' for the time of year. And, as the graphic above shows, it looks to be making significant headway in the central southern states! So, why do I think we might be in for a rougher than normal flu ride? Let me count out a few....

1) Every year, scientists look towards the Southern Hemisphere to help hone their predictions for what might happen here. When choosing strains for the coming year’s flu vaccine, they consider what’s circulating in that part of the world. That’s the good news. The culprit in Australia was the H3N2 strain of flu, which is included in this year’s vaccine and which dates back to Hong Kong in 2014. The bad news is that the H3N2 strains are some of the hardest ones for the flu vaccine to combat. All flu viruses make frequent genetic changes that help them slip around a vaccine. Influenza H3N2 viruses are particularly adept at changing as the vaccine is being made, rendering this year's vaccine less effective against them. Some experts cite an effectiveness rating of only about 10%!

2) Most of the patients that have tested positive, as of late November, tested positive for the H3 Type A strain. The same virus that did such a number in the southern hemisphere...

3) Only about 47% of American citizens even bother to get a flu shot, citing their robust health as a reason. Sadly, the virus doesn't really care about who it infects. It treats everyone the same!

4) There is some growing evidence that more Gen X shoppers are flocking to the malls, not so much for the shopping aspect as for the socializing aspects.

5) There is some evidence that the H3 strain may be more deadly that what had been normal

Flu season off to a tough start!
Flu shot may only be partially effective.
Mom of 2 dies day after flu diagnosis!

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