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Posted on: February 11, 2018

What You Should Know About Infuenza

  • It is likely there will be significant flu activity for many weeks to come.
  • There have been a number of serious infections and outbreaks due to influenza reported in long-term care facilities during the 2017-2018 flu season.
  • Flu activity indicators are notable for the sheer volume and intensity off flu that is occurring in most of the country at the same time.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) is above the epidemic threshold, which means that more deaths are occurring due to pneumonia and influenza than would be expected at this time.
  • So far, influenza A H3N2 viruses have been most common this season. H3N2 seasons have been associated with more severe illness especially among people older than 65 years and children.
  • Vaccine effectiveness against H3N2 viruses in the past has also been relatively low. Effectiveness against H1N1 and influenza B viruses has been better.
  • The relatively lower vaccine effectiveness seen against H3N2 viruses may, in part, because by egg-adapted changes introduced when H3N2 viruses are optimized for growth in eggs, which is required for the egg-based production used to produce most U.S. flu vaccines.

VACCINE AND PREVENTION

The CDC recommends a three-pronged strategy to fight flu.

  • Take time to get a flu vaccine
  • Take everyday preventive actions, including staying away from sick people
  • Take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

PREVENTION MEASURES

  • In addition to an annual flu vaccine, there are everyday steps that people can take to avoid the flu and other respiratory illnesses.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve instead of your hand. Many people cover their coughs and sneezes with their hands, but by doing so they are possibly contaminating them with flu virus which will spread to anything they touch.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often throughout the day.  Wet your hands with warm water and soap, be sure to work up a good lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds, then rinse well and dry with a paper towel. Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective against influenza and can be used when soap and water are not available; however they are not a replacement for handwashing. 
  • For children, be on the lookout for fast breathing or trouble breathing, blue color to the skin, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or interacting, and not wanting to be held. Also be    watchful for a fever with a rash or if flu symptoms get better, but then return with fever and a worsening cough.  All of these symptoms could signal a serious medical condition that requires the help of medical professionals.

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