Flu Hits Hard In Brevard And Across The Country
By Dr. James Palermo // January 11, 2013
(ABOVE VIDEO: Mediferente)
BREVARD COUNTY — This flu season got an early, and severe start, with physicians’ offices and emergency rooms all over the country being inundated with flu victims. According to the CDC’s latest FluView report, influenza activity is rapidly increasing throughout most of the country with high levels of influenza-like-illness (ILI) already being reported in 41 states, including Florida, by December 29th.
Hits Children And the Elderly Hardest
After the mild flu season last year, CDC officials anticipated a more severe one this year. The flu season does not usually peak until late January or early February, but CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner said, “By November the flu was already severe and widespread in some parts of the South and Southeast, and as we have moved into the end of December and January, activity has really picked up in a lot more states.”
The predominant strain this flu season is H3N2. “In years past when we have seen an H3N2 dominate, we tend to see more severe illness in young kids and the elderly,” Skinner says. The most recent CDC data showed that this season’s flu-related child and infant deaths had already reached 18 on Dec. 29.
Flu Can Be A Killer
An estimated 36,000 people die from the flu and flu-related complications in a typical season. “We have seen not only a very high volume of upper respiratory flu-like illness, but also a higher acuity resulting in complications such as related pneumonias,” said Dr. Jim Shaffer, lung and critical care specialist and Medical Director and founder of the Health First VitalWatch e-ICU. “We’ve been able to manage the influx of patients very well, but the presence of our winter residents, who are mostly elderly and more susceptible, and the high number of patients in our emergency rooms driven by this high number of pretty sick flu cases always presents a challenge to our ICUs and overall hospital capacity.”
It’s Not Too Late, Get Vaccinated
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, head and body aches, and runny nose. People at particular risk for flu and its complications are pregnant women, those 65 and older and anyone with a chronic illness. The CDC urges everyone 6 months of age and older, who have not yet been vaccinated this season, to get the flu vaccine, which is available as an injection or nasal spray and in a stronger dose for seniors.
If you do come down with the flu, especially if you’re high risk for complications, see your physician for antiviral treatment as soon as possible.