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…