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Flu Season

With a new confirmed case of Influenza A from a rapid nasal swab, it is appropriate to warn everyone about the current flu season. For patients wanted more scientific information about this year’s influenza outbreak, read this article. While the vaccination we are administering may not give full immunity against influenza A, especially if the infection is caused by a strain of the H3N2 virus, it will give PARTIAL immunity. Manifesting 30-40% of a case of influenza is still less severe or risky than a full-blown case of influenza.

Influenza is a very different creature than a common cold. Influenza starts ABRUPTLY, swiftly almost suddenly. People wake in the morning feeling well and within hours feel as if someone has run them over with a front loader. The muscle and body aches are quite profound. There is also usually (but not absolutely) a high fever, over 101F. The fever is accompanied by chills and shivering. And like with most other viral infections, there is a runny nose, sore throat and coughing. In adults, vomiting or diarrhea are rare but can frequently happen with small children.

Making a confirmation of influenza within the first 60 hours means Tamiflu can be started. Tamiflu is an oral antiviral medication that can reduce the course and severity of a case of influenza. Household members can also take Tamiflu prophylactically – preventatively – in an effort to avoid their own infection. Parents caring for sick children or spouses can benefit from preventative Tamiflu.

Influenza infections usually resolve in a matter of days. Most patients are better in 2 weeks. But, there is serious risk of complications especially for the very young, elderly patients or people with other serious medical conditions like asthma or emphysema. Because influenza complications occur days or weeks after the initial influenza infection, tracking mortality rates (death caused by) influenza is very difficult.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report the mortality and fatality from influenza in a RANGE. Between 2010 and 2014, the CDC data estimates that between 12,000 and 56,000 Americans died each year from complications associated DIRECTLY with influenza. And with the rapid mutations observed in the H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, the rates of infections are predicted to rise further.

If you have not yet gotten this year’s influenza vaccine – go get vaccinated at your local pharmacy. The vaccine is NOT live virus. It will not make you sick. It does not suppress your immune system. It will not give you the flu. But, being un-vaccinated leaves you completed exposed and unprotected.