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This Year's Flu Season Is Especially Awful—and It Could Be Deadly

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Jan 9, 2019
Flu season in winter
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If you haven't had your flu shot, you probably should reconsider that about now. ABC News reports that this year's flu season is already a bad one, spreading quickly and having deadly effects.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there's already flu activity in 46 U.S. states, and while that's not quite at "epidemic" levels yet, it could reach that soon. And more people are visiting doctors for flu-like symptoms this year than last year. But it's not the coldest states that are feeling it the most; the states that are seeing the most flu activity right now are Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas.

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According to theNew York Times, around 80 percent of flu cases are from the H3N2 strain, which caused hospitalizations and deaths in Australia this summer, during their winter flu season. H3N2 is known for killing more very young and very old patients than other strains. (Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions are to deadly complications from the flu.) But Australia's flu season may have been deadlier because the flu vaccine is less widespread there.

It's unclear how effective this year's flu vaccine is, and we won't know for sure until the end of the flu season. But cases of the flu seem to be more severe than last year. The number of people hospitalized for the flu is 35 percent higher than the same time last year. But the hospitalization rate is only half that of the 2014-15 flu season, which also involved the H3N2 strain.

There is a silver lining, which is that this year's flu virus seems to respond well to flu medications like Tamiflu, and there doesn't seem to be any predicted shortage of that drug. And doctors say that even though it's late, there's still time to get the flu vaccine to protect yourself. But you have to get the shot now, because it takes around two weeks for your immune system to respond to the vaccine.






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Date: 12.12.2018, 17:34 / Views: 34574