Flu Update December 2013

According to the CDC flu activity is on the rise for the 2013-14 flu season. Flu activity is particularly high in four regions of the United States which includes Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. In these states flu activity is above the normal base line for these area. Of considerable concern is the fact that the prevalent strain for the 2013-14 flu season is H1N1 which is better known as swine flu. This is the same strain that caused the flu pandemic in 2009. During the 2009 Pandemic the H1N1 virus lead to 45 deaths and resulted in just under eighteen thousand infections. According to the CDC the amount of deaths attributable to the flu are also increasing but are below what is considered epidemic proportions. Below you can learn more about the flu season for 2013 – 2014 and what steps you need to take to properly protect yourself.

Peak of Flu Season 2013/2014

Flu season is expected to peak during January and February. However, flu season can extend from the beginning of October through to late May. The CDC advises that anyone over the age of six months should receive a flu vaccine to protect themselves. The CDC selects the three main strains of flu viruses which they will be the most prevalent for 2013-2014 and provides a vaccine to counter each of these. The CDC also recommends that people take preventative steps including avoiding close contact with people who have the flu and washing your hands with soap and water when using public rest rooms or before eating (further recommendations). If you are infected it is recommended that you stay home to prevent further infections from occurring. The flu is particularly dangerous for vulnerable individuals, which includes young children, the elderly and those with existing health problems such as heart conditions.

All about the flu / flu season 2013/2014

All about the flu / flu season 2013/2014

During the 2013-2014 flu season there will be vaccines made available for three different flu viruses. These vaccines are known as trivalent and protect against the influenza B virus and the two different forms of influenza A viruses. Standard dose trivalent shots with a virus grown in an egg can be administered to people aged six months or older. Trivalent shots grown in a cell culture are suitable for people aged eighteen years and older. And high dosage trivalent shots are suitable for people aged sixty five and over. There will also be quadrivalent vaccines which are effective protection for four different flu viruses. The quadrivalent vaccine is effective for protecting against two types of influenza B virus and two types of influenza A virus. The standard dose quadrivalent vaccine is administered as a nasal spray and is suitable for healthy people aged 2 to 45 years old. The CDC does not recommend either the quadrivalent or trivalent vaccine over the other, but does state that people should get at least one of the vaccines for the 2013 – 2014 flu season.

The years flu vaccine will protect against the H1N1 strain. Spokespeople for the CDC state that it is unlikely that the H1N1 virus will reach pandemic levels as it did during 2009. The reason for this is that because this years flu vaccine protects against H1N1 and millions of people have received it. In addition millions of people have already been exposed to the H1N1 virus since 2009. In order for a pandemic to take place a new group of people who haven’t been previously exposed to the virus need to be exposed. In the United States this is not the the case. This year most of the infections of the H1N1 virus are occurring in the South Central regions of the United States and among young adults.

For the 2013 – 2014 flu season it is estimated that vaccine manufacturers will produce between 138 and 145 million influenza vaccine doses for the United States. Of these between 106 and 113 will be the trivalent flu vaccine. The rest of the doses produced will be for the quadrivalent flu vaccine. Vaccines are designed to provide protection for the entire flu season. People who were vaccinated during the previous flu season will still require new shots this year. The exact protective period of the vaccine depends on a number of different factors including the age and health of the person receiving the dose. Spokespeople for the CDC state that each year between 40 and 45% of the population are vaccinated for the flu, but they would like to see this figure to increase to 70%.

How to protect against the flu…

 

Understanding the flu 2013 season

Every year the Center for Disease Control puts out of report to inform people of what to

Flu 2013 season

Flu 2013

expect during the Flu 2013 season. Recently, the CDC provided the Flu 2013 report which including the Flu symptoms 2013 list. The first piece of information that is necessary for understanding the current flu season is, what sort of flu season should people expect, are there any new strains, when will the chance of infection be at its peak and are there going to be enough vaccines to go around.

Understanding the flu 2013 season

The first thing to understand is that there is no real way to predict how bad a flu 2013 season is going to be, in some cases, it can all be relative to the geographical area and the socioeconomic status of the community in general. Additionally, there is no real way to predict how bad the Flu symptoms 2013 are going to be because it can vary from person to person and region to region.

As a result, the best is anyone’s guess and people should consider speaking with their primary care providers for more accurate information on the community. They are often the key element to understanding the flu 2013 season and preparing for it.

One of the biggest things that people worry about is whether a new strain is going to come out. Additionally they might have the added worry about how effective are vaccines really going to be against new or mutated strains. The reality is that there are going to be mutations and therefore new strains coming out in practically every flu season including the flu 2013 season.

The current flu 2013 season has just begun and new strains have yet to be discovered that should not discount their existence and people should be aware that the flu is one of the diseases that has been around since record history and has no cure despite vaccines, which can help to minimize and sometimes eliminate flu symptoms 2013.

The Flu 2013 season, which begins in November, does not usually peak until some time between January and February. If you are looking to obtain a vaccine, it should be done before November so you can be prepared. However, this is just an average, in some areas it can start as soon as October and run all the way through May.

Are Vaccines Really Effective

Dealing with the flu symptoms 2013 can be harsh. It means lost time from work, lost wages on top of the coughing, sneezing, congestion and body aches that are often associated with the flu. No one wants to deal with it if they do not have to deal with it and that is where vaccines come in. Vaccines are made from pieces of the flu virus and are designed to provide the human body with the tools to create antibodies.

These antibodies are what help protect people from the flu 2013 . When they encounter viruses they are vaccinated against, they already have what it takes to fight the virus off. This is not completely effective. It is however, good protection. There are numerous things, which can interfere with the effectiveness of a vaccine. For example, there are some medications or even preexisting conditions, which can weaken the body’s defenses. When this happens, the vaccine is not as effective or the virus can cause symptoms. In these instances, the flu symptoms 2013 are generally milder than you would experience without the vaccine.

In spite of this protection against flu symptoms 2013 most people will not obtain the flu vaccine despite its wide spread availability. There is reported to be an increase of approximately six million vaccines from originally projected amounts. The majority of these vaccines are projected to be Trivalent though there will be some that are quadrivalent vaccines.

The difference between these two flu 2013 vaccines is the number of viruses that it protects against, additionally, these vaccines is split into several different types. There are standard doses grown from eggs, some from cell cultures, others are egg free and there are others designed for all people and others designed for those 65 and older. The Quadrivalent vaccines can be given to people from 2 years versus 6 months with the trivalent and the quadrivalent only has two options a nasal spray or shot. Trivalent shots are all shots.

News about the Flu Vaccine for 2013 – 2014 Flu Season

Flu season this year came with a will to fight the most modern flu vaccine. Vaccines have been reported to have failed several people around the world. But the numbers are not enough to generally consider the vaccine to be ineffective. Health reports have shown that people who had the vaccine still experience flu symptoms. However, these symptoms disappeared before doctors can declare that the patient really had flu.

But another set of numbers show a different story. The overall efficacy rate of the flu vaccine is at 59%, based on the study conducted by the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy of the University of Minnesota. This means that the vaccine has a 41 percent failure rate. When we consider risks and probability, getting the flu shot today is just the same as keeping yourself healthy and getting enough sleep. In other words, you do not have to get the shot to protect yourself during flu season.

Another statistics shows the efficacy rate of the vaccine to be around 56 percent, except when the patient is 60 years old and above. This is based on actual people who took the vaccine before the 2012-2013 flu season. It seems that actual efficacy rate is lower than the theoretical one.

The Need to Improve the Flu Vaccine

The poor efficacy rate of this year’s flu vaccine is a compelling reason to start reworking the approach into dealing with the influenza virus next year. One can easily reject it as a flu vaccine when you consider its failure rate and how it is not capable of stopping all strains of the virus. The CDC is now planning to have a four-component flu vaccine that is expected to stop 4 strains of the flu virus. These are H1N1, H3N2, the 2 strains of influenza A and influenza B.

These are the 4 predominant strains of the flu virus known today which will prevent any possible H1N1 and H3N2 scare. The H1N1 virus is the most popular strain since it is responsible for 4 historical flu outbreaks: the Spanish Flu, the Russian Flu, the outbreak in Fort Dix and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. So the latest vaccine will be the most powerful one based on the number of flu viruses that it supposed to stop. Testing for the efficacy is much easier now. However, there is also the aspect of safety. This new vaccine is more potent which means it can also have far worse side-effects than the previous vaccine.

The efficacy of the flu vaccine is also dependent on the time period required for the antivirus to spread through the body. This is why CDC started administering the vaccine this month to give the antivirus 30 days time to circulate throughout the immune system of each American.

Flu Vaccine’s Constant Wall

The only problem with the current plan is that it will have nothing for any new strains of the virus during 2013 – 2014’s flu season. The CDC is hoping that there will no such occurrence but the possibility of the current strains of flu viruses to mutate is still there. And just like the past flu seasons, health officials are expecting mutant flu viruses that will have resistance to the latest vaccine.

For this year’s flu season, the latest vaccine will receive its true and toughest test as more and more people take it in preparation for October, the month when flu season starts in North America. CDC is expecting the vaccine to be far more successful than the one used last year. Officials are hoping to have an increase in efficacy of at least 20% or an overall efficacy rate of 79%.

This is a very ambitious goal considering the factors that will affect the vaccine’s efficacy. Virus mutation is the worst enemy since it can render the vaccine completely use on that strain of the flu virus.

The Issue with the Seniors

Another factor that can through a huge curve ball on the flu vaccine is the elderly. Last year’s vaccine had a terrible efficacy rate on senior citizens, an embarrassing 27 percent. But against stronger strains of the virus, the efficacy rate drop further down to 9 percent. This also led to a significant number of flu related fatalities on this age group during last year’s flu season.

However, health officials claim that the primary culprit is the significant decline of the body’s immune system when it reaches 60 years old and above. The vaccine may be able to stop to virus from multiplying but it is unable to stop the flu symptoms which can trigger other illnesses.

The elderly should still take the flu vaccine since it is still considered the best defense against the dreaded influenza virus according to the health experts.

 

2013 Flu Season Updates in the South Hemisphere

Flu Season in Australia and New Zealand

The flu season is heading towards its last month in the southern hemisphere. But there are reports of delayed influenza season in

All about the flu / flu season 2013/2014

All about the flu / flu season 2013/2014

several countries in the south. In Australia, there is evidence that the flu season has just started for several states. One is Canberra. Paul Kelly, Chief Health Officer of ACT confirmed last August 12 that the flu seasons in Canberra just started. Last year, flu season peaked in the middle of July. Eastern Australia also experienced a delayed flu season. Cases of flu were first reported in the first week of August and are not expected to peak anytime this month of September.

The odd thing observed is that other areas had an early flu season. In New South Wales, the flu season started earlier and peaked on the month of August.  There were also scattered reports of flu cases since January but the numbers are too few to be considered a sign of the flu season. Overall analysis shows that the 2013 flu season for Australia will be a slow one.

Despite the delay of the flu season in Australia, New Zealand is expected to reach the end of its flu season as the country enters spring. The country has an early flu season, at the very start of winter. However, there was reported late flu surge in Wellington reported last August 30 which made the Regional Public Health office on red alert this week for any changes in the situation. Health officials have officially declared it as a flu outbreak and warned Wellington citizens to watch out for symptoms.

This sudden spike in flu season activity in New Zealand has baffled medical experts. They still consider it as a late flu surge due to the effect of temperature change on the virus. However, official expert findings shows that warm weather have no significant effect on flu infection. So the cause for the late flu outbreak is still a mystery.

 

 Flu Season in South Africa

The same is true for South Africa. The flu season officially started last May and is expected to reach its last “hurrah” this September. It is also observed that the strain of the virus that affected the region is predominantly the H1N1 or influenza A which already have an effective vaccine. There are also cases of H3N3 cases but it is significantly lesser in numbers that those who were infected by H1N1.

All nine provinces in South Africa experience the onslaught of the flu season. But the most affected province is Gauteng with over 600 cases of the flu infection, the highest number in all provinces. North West had the least number reported which is just 7 cases of flu infection. The local health officials also needed to deal with the hoax that spread last July about swine flu infecting people in the region. Although the number of cases has dropped significantly since week 27, the number of flu infection remains consistent from week 28 to week 33. And this time most of the infections are caused by the H3N3 virus.

There is still no sign of the flu season ending in South Africa. But the current trend is saying that it is in its late stage. The number of cases is expected to drop further in the weeks to come. For now health officials are observing the behavior of the H3N3 flu strain.

 

Flu Season in South America

In South America, the flu season is officially over according to the World Health Organization. There were no cases of flu infection reported since week 32. It peaked in South America during weeks 26 to 27. Number of flu cases significantly dropped in the succeeding weeks. Week 33 and 34 showed no additional cases of people getting sick from any of the influenza strains, even from the very common H1N1 virus.

This information is telling us that the flu season is at its end in the southern hemisphere. The only notable exception is Australia due to the late onset of the flu season and the slow activity of influenza in the country. There is still no concrete explanation for this phenomenon but health officials are confident that the preparations they have will still work. The only issue is that this could lead to an extended flu season that could very well peak in the middle of spring or even continue to early summer.

 

Conclusion

Australians are advised to take the flu vaccine to increase their protection from the virus. The slow activity should not be taken as a sign that flu season this year will have insignificant effect compared to last year. This will also help prevent sudden flu epidemics in areas with small to zero case of reported incidents. This is to prevent scenarios like that one happened in Wellington, New Zealand. Schools are good places for the virus to spread fast since a lot of young people mingle with each other. An infected student can easily cause an outbreak if the other students are vulnerable.

Flu Season Still Far from Over

We are now nearing the end of February and yet there is not end on sight with the flu season. There are reports of flu activity declining but these are in the east where the flu season started. The flu activity on the west is still up and is expected to peak by early March. That means that this year’s flu season is much longer than expected.

The CDC was able to record 22 states with influenza activity that is widespread during February 10 to 16. That is about 44 percent of the entire United States. So it is logically to conclude that the flu season is still at large despite the CDC claiming that it is nearing its end. It is expected though since flu seasons in the US usually end by February. But since it started out earlier this time (December instead of January) we may as well expect it to last longer.

The experience also lead to the discovery on how ineffective are the flu shots on the elderly. This makes matters worst since a lot of elderly did not expect the flu vaccines to fail so miserably. The flu shot given to individuals 65 years old and above was observed to be effective to only 9% of the total recipients. This is a huge concern since the elderly usually suffer more during flu seasons. The vaccines were developed based on the information gathered during the flu season last 2012. It seems the information is obsolete when formulating a vaccine for the elderly.

Pediatric death toll continues to rise. The latest number of deaths for since February 2 was 14. There is still not reports if whether these children were vaccinated or not. Even so, it is best to not just rely on the flu shot. Maintain a kin eye on any signs of flu on your kids. Early detection is very important since the flu vaccine does not guarantee a 100 percent protection to the virus. The current statistics shows that it is only 62% effective against the flu virus strand this flu season.

For the elderly (individuals 65 years old and up), the efficacy is even below 10%. And this caused several lives already. The elderly are more susceptible to the flu virus and they are more likely to die from complications from the disease. Based on the number of deaths it is possible that the false sense of safety brought by the flu shots contributed to it. To the elderly, the flu shots were a waste of time and a gamble that was not worthwhile. It even made them complacent when they should have been vigilant in protecting themselves from the virus.

Detection of the flu virus within 48 hours is strongly recommended for early treatment that greatly helps in dealing with the disease. This would have been the key in preventing the number of deaths. The sad part is that the CDC and other media sources placed too much emphasis on the flu shots. A lot of people thought that it would be enough and did not expect that the vaccine has a chance of failing by almost 40 percent. That is a very high margin for failure for a drug that is supposed to protect us from a very common yet deadly virus.

Pregnant women should start protecting themselves from exposure. The flu shot is proven safe for them but due to the efficacy issue it is best for them to remain healthy and maintain proper hygiene like proper cleaning of hands and wearing face masks when going out. Eating healthy will also help strengthen the immune system.

SARS-like virus in this flu season

The US is also currently in the lookout for any signs that the dreaded SARS-like flu observed in the UK and has died from it. A total of 6 people have died from the said virus in the world. This was verified last February 13. There is still no recorded incident of such a virus affecting anyone in the US but the CDC remains vigilant. There are about 12 people who have contracted the virus worldwide and 6 of these people have died. That is a 50 percent mortality rate for a flu virus.

This new SARS-like flu virus could spell an extension to the US flu season and could lead to more deaths. CDC is already expecting the worst case scenario and is preparing for it. The death toll would be far worse in the US if this new flu virus hits the nation.

The total death now is 78 based on recorded incidents. The death toll among children is now 59. But the CDC expects the numbers to be higher when flu season finally ends. The department is still reluctant to make an estimate so make way for accurate counts.

Is Flu Being Hyped To Unnecessary Levels?

It’s already February, but it’s still cold and dreary – still the perfect time for influenza virus to strike, and for the mainstream media to grab the opportunity and scare people of its harm, causing us to rush in our supermarkets and buy excessive hand sanitizers.

In the past couple of years, we can recall the bird flu and the world-famous H1N1, formerly known as swine flu, and caused a lot of trouble for pigs simply because of media’s hype and public’s misconception. These viruses were highly contagious, something we’ve always tried to avoid – well – just like a plague. Each year, we see dramatic outbreak of flu virus, and this year was no different, as a matter of fact, it’s the earliest season in nearly a decade. For this flu season, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) said that, the media frenzy behind the outbreak seems just some of those years.

Awareness about the flu virus is indeed, very important for public health. The young ones and the elderly are amongst the most vulnerable from these risks. Nobody wants to get sick, it compromises our busy and fast-paced 21st century lives. Thus, it is only reasonable that we want to know the truth behind the threat.

However, it is also very important that we keep our emotions in check and things in perspective. If we become sick from the flu virus, then it’s going to happen, and we can’t save ourselves even by bathing in Purell. What most people fail to realize is that, when one gets sick and he or she is normally healthy, then it’s important that he or she
should be sick – meaning, one should let the virus run its course and help the immune system fight and beat the virus from inside. The most bothersome thing about flu is people walking around carrying and spreading the virus, like a classmate or coworker arriving in the morning and announcing in a nasal voice of having the virus. Flu is highly contagious, and it’s an airborne virus that circulates in an enclosed room. We all don’t want to be around someone with the virus, nor inside a room with a person infected by it. The best thing you can do to yourself and the people around you when you get affected is to stay at home, get some rest, and drink a lot of fluids and healthy foods to help the body recover fast. Call your office or your teacher about your situation, and everyone wins.

In the early weeks of January in light of the flu outbreak, which peaked significantly earlier than usual (that’s according to CDC), there has been an increased demand for flu vaccines. The vaccine is said to protect us from the virus 100% – and this is simply another hype the mainstream media taught us. To tell you frankly, the CDC conducted
a study about the efficacy of the vaccines to protect us from the virus in 2011 – 2012 season. The result shows the vaccine can only protect us by 50%. Meaning, though it certainly doesn’t hurt to get vaccinated, it is not the sole solution against the problem, and there’s still no guarantee.

The reason behind this rating of efficacy is that, the virus circulating doesn’t always match the vaccine 100%. Though the CDC and health experts are doing their best to protect the public through vaccination, the strain of the virus circulating varies year after year. For this year however, the vaccine is a pretty good much for the strain of virus circulating.

Bloomberg reported in January that, this year’s inoculation accounts to about 62% of vaccine efficacy. That’s a whopping 12% increase from the usually 50% protection.

However, to be safe, one should never be surprised if he or she still gets sore throat and sniffles even after the vaccination at some point this winter. Even if the vaccine doesn’t stop the sickness entirely, some stubborn symptoms may still appear, and can be a lot less severe.

The flu vaccine takes almost 2 weeks to take in effect, thus, it’s very important to take it for what its worth. While waiting for it to kick in, the best thing you can do to safeguard yourself from the virus is to keep your body clean, wash your hands often, get enough sleep, and keep a healthy lifestyle.

Flu Cases Decline but Mortality Rate in Kids Up

The spread of the flu virus in some parts of the United States caused alarm amongst the local health officials. However, the CDC director has noted that the spread has somewhat slowed down in some parts of the country and officials are hoping that the decline will continue until they have completely regained control of the situation.

About 24 states in the US, including New York, had been reported to have experienced high level of the flu activity. This report came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of their regular update on flu activity, which spans between the last week of December and first few weeks of January 2013. In comparison to an earlier report, this means that it is 5 less number of states that are still battling the repercussions of flu activity.

The far West Coast, as noted by Dr. Joseph Bresee of the Influenza Division at CDC, is the only part of the US that is relatively unaffected by the flu spread. The most troubling part of the report concerning the monitoring of flu cases in the country would have to be the number of pediatric deaths resulting from it. In fact, there was an increase of two when compared to previous data.

Reports indicate that 20 of those that had been confirmed death by flu were below the age of 18. This data was gathered since the onset of the flu outbreak in the US. The data for the adult deaths relating to the flu is not conclusive as of the moment, but if some of the local authorities data were to be used as basis, this number could be somewhere near a dozen.

The activity map outlined by the CDC helps to pinpoint exactly where the main focus of the flu activity is, which is also crucial in leading health authorities in terms of focusing their efforts on prevention and recovery. The map shows that the Southeast of the United States is largely affected by the flu outbreak, which includes the following states: Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina. New York, along with some other Northeastern states, were also largely affected by the flu spread. On the flip side, states like Hawaii, Mississippi and California shows no signs of flu activity.

The CDC clarifies to the citizens that a state is only tagged as having experienced “widespread” flu activity when more than half of the geographic region is affected. But because this time of year is dubbed as “flu season”, local and national health officials expect flu activity to increase. The fact that influenza activity follows an up and down trend also makes it difficult to make conclusive statements as to the real state of the flu activity in the nation, as well as the affected areas. Close monitoring is required to ensure that the situation is under control.

Officials have promised to closely monitor the situation in the next couple of weeks as part of the Flu 2013 prevention movement. They will determine by then if the flu season has peaked or will continue to see its peak in the coming weeks.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the “[flu epidemic] is still on the upstick.”

One of the reasons why flu 2013 activity had been more serious than it was a few years ago is the fact that flu season came in early this year. Also, the severity of the cases had been increased from last year. This is evident in the city of Boston wherein the city mayor Thomas Menino had said, “this is the worst flu season we’ve seen since 2009, and people should take the threat of flu seriously.”

Right now, health officials within the affected states are joining their efforts in spreading more information about the symptoms of flu. Their focus is directed towards limiting the mortality rate, especially the cases of pediatric deaths.

Flu 2013: Flu Update in Europe as of January 2013

On the second and third week of this year, the flu activity continued to rise in some parts of the northern hemisphere, and remained sporadic in the southern hemisphere. The A (H3N2) flu virus is pretty much a very dominant strain, which is then followed by the influenza B and even the A (H1N1) pdm09 viruses.

Influenza Activity in Europe
Flu activity in Europe has increased in variable proportion as the virus circulates throughout the region. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has seen increase in A(H1N1)pdm09 virus cases, this is from the central and eastern European region. A predominant strain (influenza B virus) were reported in few countries, while some countries also reports A(H3N2) viruses predominated

The flu virus is spreading across European region, from west to east, affecting at least 10 countries in the region, and report shows that numbers are still growing. Right now, there’s a widespread activity in the west and north, while sporadic to no activities in the east. The same way it did in flu season 2011/2012, the strains A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and type B are showing signs of circulation, but they’re normally just mild cases. However, many elderly individuals with underlying health conditions have been affected severely by the virus, while fatalities have been recorded in younger patients.

As usual, in winter season, health care authorities all across Europe have warned citizens to prepare for an increase in cases of various respiratory conditions for both outpatient and hospitals all across the region.

Right now, at least 16 European countries have reported cases of influenza virus activity, much of these countries are in the northwestern part of the continent; this is according to the latest weekly surveillance report from the ECDC in Stockholm.

Data shows that the hardest hit of the virus is Norway. So far though, it’s the only nation in the continent that reports “high intensity” of fly transmission. A couple of weeks ago, about 12 countries, including France, Ireland and Germany, have reported moderate increase in the level of cases the last weeks of 2012, ECDC said.

Like in the United States, flu in Europe arrived very early this season. But experts say that although the flu activity is increasing, they don’t see it as worse than normal.

So far, 239 people have been hospitalized and were confirmed through lab tests as flu patients, this number is obviously expected to grow. It may be lower than the actual number of cases, since many people have had the virus didn’t end up in hospitals. Also, reports said there were two confirmed fatalities of the flue.

In US, the epidemic has stretched drastically, affecting 47 states and killing 20 children this season. However, the kind of strain circulating in Europe to day is different. The US’s predominant flu virus strain is Type A, while the predominant strain in Europe is Type B, which has 2 different sub-types. According to the new report, this season’s vaccine is better suited to the viruses circulating in Europe.

“The virological match with the strains in the current seasonal influenza vaccine is considered good,” the authors wrote.

But at the same time, parts of Europe are being gripped by norovirus, the severe gastrointestinal illness that also has spread across the United States and Canada.

In UK, the Health Protection Agency said that more than 3,800 cases have been confirmed through testing so far, that’s 70% increase over this time a year ago. Since many people have chosen to avoid going to hospitals, they experienced other symptoms through retching, such as acute diarrhea, and other sickness symptoms at home. Thus, it is believed that the true number of sickness is higher than the reported digits.

Flu Virus Still Getting Strong In Western States

What is considered as the worst flu season in recent history is still flexing its muscle in Western States.

Out of the 24 states that reported high number of influenza-like conditions (ILI), 19 were around the Mississippi River during the first four weeks of the year, ending 26th of January. This is according to “Flu View” 2012-13 flu season report released on Friday by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

In the last days of 2012, 18 and 29 states reported elevated cases of ILI, lay east of Mississippi.

The migration of the flu virus from east to west is an enduring pattern according to the CDC.

Though there’s been a decrease of percentage of outpatient visits throughout the country, it rose abruptly in the fourth week of 2013, affecting 8 Western states, including Arizona, Alaska, California, Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. The rate also took a step slightly higher in Midwestern states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

According to the Flu View report, the ILI rate for the fourth week of this year, across the country, is at 4.2%. That’s slightly lower from week three though. This is also a sign of decrease, as the rate went as high as 5.6% in the last week of 2012.

Another key factor for flu activity is the number of respiratory specimens that was tested positive for the virus, which also continued its gradual drop from 26.1% in third week of this year, to 25.5% on the fourth week of 2013. Furthermore, the number of states reporting widespread influenza fell to 42.

Children and Seniors Face Special Threat As Flu Grows Acute in 48 States

One of the biggest headlines about this flu season is the new strain that particularly affects children and seniors, which has already expanded throughout 40 states this year.

Though the dominant strain varies depending on the region, the H3N2 A is the prevalent strain this flu season, and its patient is mostly children and the elderly. The US CDC reported a total of 8.3% deaths in over 122 cities across the country of both flu and pneumonia (the usual consequence of the virus) – this is 1.1% above the standard used to categorize flu epidemics.

Based on the statistics collected from 1976 to 2006, there’s an average of 36,000 deaths in a usual flu season, where the number of fatalities ranges from 3,000 to 49,000 each year. From this group, almost 90% deaths are among adults, particularly 65 years old and up.

Likely, almost 50% of hospitalization from this age group, and for this year in particular, the data shows to be higher than normal.

Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, from the CDC, said that – “Last week hospitalization rates increased sharply in people 65 and over, and this week hospitalization rates for people 65 and over increased sharply again — to 82 per 100,000, which is really quite a high rate.”

The flu virus has been common in the South and Southeast for as early as November, which is far earlier than the common flu season, which usually peaks during January and early-February. Also, experts warn that, this year’s flu season is far from over.

Frieden said “we are in the middle of flu season, about halfway through, and it’s shaping up to be a worse-than-average season and a bad season, particularly, for the elderly.”

Despite of maxing out in some regions across the country, the H3N2 flu strain is still quite severe and common. Experts say the virus is even growing worse in some other parts of the country.

Influenza vaccine, which is still widely available despite the advancement of the outbreak, still provides the best protection against flu and flu-related conditions. Despite its shortages in particular parts of the country – only 129 million doses from the distributed 135 million – flu shot makers say they can increase the production to about 149 million vaccines to meet the growing demand.

Flu Season Continues, Reaches and Spreads In New Hampshire

On average, Londonderry Middle School sees 15 absent students per day. For the past couple of weeks, more than 100 students have been out every day because of the virus.

Schools and educational institutions are becoming emptier each day than usual, teachers blame this to the increase of flu cases and flu-related illnesses among their students.

14 people have already died this flu season in New Hampshire due to A H3N2 flu strain, most of them are seniors. According to Director Dr. José Montero, this is an unusually high data, considering it’s still quite early of the season.

As the news of on the spread of the virus went on, so does the illness, thus the demand for the vaccine also started to rise.

While many pharmacies and some Bay State communities have run out of the flu shot, vaccines are still readily available in Southern New Hampshire.

Today, hospitals and medical institution are swamped, accommodating flu patients and those who are asking for the flu shot.

Susan Chadwick from the Derry Medical Center, says they’ve received at almost twice the number of calls they usually receive every day. Their office averaged 1,200 calls every day for the last month and a whopping 25% increase calls. Because of which, their office added more staff to accommodate the growing number of patients.

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot here,” Chadwick said. “We are meeting the high demand right now.”

Another place with high demand for more flu shot is the Walgreens in Derry. They only had vaccines for 65 age and up after running out of supplies in January 10th, but they received a new batch of vaccines on the 14th.

Not all schools reported surge in absences, but health officials say they’re anticipating for it to come, considering the pattern of the spread of this year’s flu season.

“I think (absences) have been normal because we just got back from vacation and the schools were cleaned then,” said Laura Nelson, Derry Cooperative School District superintendent. “I anticipate seeing changes as the weeks go on.”

School officials however, are doing everything they can to minimize the impact of the flu. As a matter of fact, the district has been following the same safety procedures implemented during the outbreak of H1N1 virus in 2009. Cleanliness and sanitation are emphasized, with hand sanitizers available in line school hallways, reminding the students to clean their hands regularly to stop the spread of the virus.

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