February 22, 2018

Brazos Valley seeing more flu cases this year

08 December 2017, 01:39 | Rex Hubbard

AP Dr. Thomas Frieden director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention receives a flu shot

Dr. Thomas Frieden director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention receives a flu shot

The flu virus spreads through tiny droplets produced when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. As the season continues the state could have more flu-related fatalities.

"The only time my husband and I ever got them, we've never been so sick in our lives so we've been avoiding them like the plague", said Tiffany King, who doesn't get a flu shot.

And because most people who show flu symptoms don't go to the doctor and get tested, state epidemiologist Alfred DeMaria cautioned those numbers represent only a small portion of actual cases.

The paper says the implications for the Northern Hemisphere are not clear but states that since most of the USA influenza-vaccine supply is now produced in eggs and the composition of the 2017-2018 Northern Hemisphere vaccine is identical to that used in Australia, it is possible that we will experience low vaccine effectiveness against influenza A (H3N2) viruses and a relatively severe influenza season if they predominate.

In its December 1 weekly flu report, the CDC changed the state's activity rating from "regional" to "widespread", the worst rating among states so far this year.

Though the vaccine may not be ideal, Zimmerman emphasized that it's still a good idea to get it to protect not only one's own health, but also the health of loved ones. Not for two decades did Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis develop the first vaccine against flu viruses in 1938, though it was not available to the masses for another 7 years.

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The second major strain of influenza - B - already has been found even though it typically doesn't appear until February, according to Canada's FluWatch Report.

"We're seeing earlier cases, and the predominant strain is H3N2, which is different from prior seasons", he adds.

The state Department of Public Health has issued an advisory saying the flu is stronger and earlier than in most years.

"It doesn't necessarily mean flu shots won't work here, or suggest how intense our flu season will be, but it's a good predictor", Crain stated. There are three other strains represented in the vaccine, two of which are also circulating this year. Between the same time period past year, there were 2,510.

Also, if you are going to go get your flu shot now, the CDC says it really ought to be a proper shot with a needle and everything; they do not recommend using the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine this year.

"So given that, particularly for the H3N2 component, the vaccine effectiveness we're anticipating will be low", predicted Skowronski.

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