Flu Season: Here and Worse than Ever

Sujan Garapati This flu season has been one of the worst recorded. As the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “Almost everything we’re looking at is bad news.” So far this winter, 63 children have died from the flu and that number is rising daily. Doctors around the country are saying that this is the worst flu season since the 2009 swine flu epidemic and it does not look like it is going to let up anytime soon. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, lists three reasons why the flu has been so awful this year. First, he says the strain of the flu (H3N2) that is in the United States is one of the most dominant strains. “The second reason H3N2 has been so pervasive,” says Fauci, “is people have less exposure to it. When the same flu strain strikes repeatedly, people and thus regions tend to build up immunity.” Lastly, he lists that this year’s flu has been so bad because of complications with the vaccine. Although the flu vaccine has been 60% effective, the vaccine which is grown in chickens eggs was mutated while it was growing making it less effective. During this fierce and deadly flu season, it’s important to recognize the symptoms that will tell you whether you have the flu…or just a common cold. According to Dr. Rachael Lee, assistant professor in the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Division of Infectious Diseases, there are certain ways to tell the difference. “Colds are typically around your nose and face, and you have a sore throat,” she said. As for the flu, “it is pretty much all of a sudden: You will have fevers, body aches, sore throat, coughs, and then you can have other symptoms as well, such as shortness of breath. You can feel dehydrated, meaning you may be dizzy, and you may be a little bit confused,” she said. The CDC recommends taking two simple, but effective actions to prevent the flu. First, the CDC recommends that everybody gets a flu vaccine. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. In addition, the CDC says that people should be taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. Simple actions such as washing your hands often and covering your mouth when coughing can stop the spread of the flu. The CDC also recommends that if diagnosed with the flu or flu-like symptoms that you stay home for 24 hours. This flu season has been one to remember for all the wrong reasons and we all need to take precautions to stay healthy. Help keep you and your classmates safe by washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, and staying home from school when you are sick.   Source: Gibbens, Sarah. “What Makes This Flu Season So Bad.” National Geographic, 17     Jan. 2018, news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/     flu-influenza-h3n2-virus-outbreak-vaccine-spd/. Accessed 11 Feb. 2018. ]]>