A recent report from the Conversation said the 2017-2018 flu season was historically severe.
According to scientists, public health officials estimate that 900,000 Americans were hospitalized and 80,000 died from the flu and its complications.
For comparison, the previous worst season from the past decade, 2010-2011, saw 56,000 deaths. In a typical season, 30,000 Americans die.
So why was the 2017-2018 season such a bad year for flu? There were two big factors.
First, one of the circulating strains of the influenza virus, A(H3N2), is particularly virulent, and vaccines targeting it are less effective than those aimed at other strains.
In addition, most of the vaccine produced was mismatched to the circulating A(H3N2) subtype.
These problems reflect the special biology of the influenza virus and the methods by which vaccines are produced.
How to protect yourself during this flu season?
The following advice is offered by Dr. Jean Chin, former executive director of the University of Georgia Health Center who retired earlier this year:
Prevent the Flu
Get a flu shot. The best way to prevent the flu is to be immune to the viruses. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, you should still get one.
It is important to know that the flu strain mutates every year.
The flu shot you get this year is different from the one you got last year because it is made specifically for the prominent strains of the virus.
Practice good hand hygiene by either hand washing with soap and water or by using alcohol-based gels.
Recent research has shown that washing hands carefully could help protect you and your family members.
Do not touch your face, eyes or mouth unless your hands are clean.
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. An uncovered cough or sneeze can project respiratory droplets 3 to 6 feet or more.
Treating the Flu
The flu is a contagious disease that is caused by one of many influenza viruses. It primarily attacks the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs).
The flu usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms: fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches and insomnia.
Stay home if you are sick. A good rule of thumb if you have the flu is that you should stay home as long as you have a fever.
You can return to school or work if you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicines.
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
If you live in a residence hall, consider going to your permanent home until you have recovered.
Take medication to relieve the symptoms of flu.
Drink plenty of liquids.
Avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
For more information about the flu, getting a flu shot or when to seek a health care provider, visit the University Health Center’s Influenza site.
If you are interested in a #FLuGA Mobile Clinic coming to your department or organization please send a request.
Copyright © 2018 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.
Source: The Conversation, University of Georgia.