Less effective flu shot helping kick up cases this season
Jan 09 2018 by Kathy Alvarado
Health officials reported 27 deaths from the flu in people younger than 65 in California since the season began in October.
Flu activity is now widespread across Tennessee and the US, and everyone over the age of six months old that has not yet had a flu vaccination this flu season is urged to get one now, officials said.
There's been some concern both in the US and Canada that this season's vaccine is not particularly effective against the H3N2 strain of influenza A, but state, county and national health experts still recommend a flu shot. "The elderly and young babies are most susceptible".
But they're describing this influenza season - which has seen a mix of two strains dominating - as unusual. "And as that is coming down toward the end of February, that's when we start to see that peak of influenza B activity into the spring and later season".
"We know that the years when there are H3N2 strains that predominate, those are more severe years - meaning there are typically more infections, more severe infections, more hospitalizations and more deaths".
British Columbia, for example, is seeing an atypical 50-50 mix of H3N2 and B/Yamagata, although other regions in Canada may have different ratios of the two strains affecting their populations, Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the BC Centre for Disease Control said from Vancouver.
Clean: Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water. "You can also catch influenza by touching a surface or object that the virus lands on and then touching your mouth, nose, or other parts of your face".
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We already mentioned the early outbreak.
In its weekly FluWatch report, the Public Health Agency of Canada says there were 11,277 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu across the country as of December 30 - about 70 per cent attributed to H3N2 - with more than 1,000 influenza-related hospitalizations and 34 deaths.
State health officials on December 27 were prompted by the high number of cases to recommend that hospitals limit visitors and take precautions to prevent and control the spread of the flu. As well, not all provinces and territories keep track of hospitalizations due to influenza. "It's really common sense", Hassoun said. Furthermore, the state's emergency departments saw an increase in patients being admitted for flu-like symptoms.
To be effective, the drugs must be taken in 12 to 48 hours from onset of symptoms, which include cough, muscle aches and fever.
Prof Dingwall said: "The jab is not as effective because it is a new strain of flu".
H3N2 has been responsible for some of the worst flu seasons in the U.S. in recent years, including the 2006-2007, 2012-2013, and 2014-2015 bouts.