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 It seems the information is obsolete when formulating a vaccine for the elderly.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.