Early flu season could leave more North Dakotans sick

Lynette Rowe
December 8, 2017

If you do get flu, keep it to yourself, Mills said.

"They had quite a substantial epidemic due to H3N2, so there's a lot of speculation that that's foreboding a severe season for us also", she said from Vancouver.

Although it is relatively early in this flu season, influenza activity in SC at this point has been higher than normal.

This season, the CDC advises that only injectable flu vaccines (flu shots) are recommended. The newest department of health numbers confirm that flu season is here. Flu related complications can include pneumonia and dehydration.

A report published today shows the rate of adults getting vaccinated against influenza this year has dropped 3.7 percent, meaning just a third of adults and children are protected. The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older to protect against this serious, potentially deadly, but vaccine-preventable disease.

Still, McGeer said there's good evidence accumulated over time that getting the flu shot every year "is a safer and healthier thing to do for myself and better for my patients and my family".

In the case of H3N2, the vaccine component has been genetically altered somewhat as a result of the manufacturing process, which involves growing vast quantities of the virus in eggs.

For the elderly or others who are especially vulnerable, a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to help lesson symptoms.

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Though the accuracy and effectiveness of each year's vaccine varies, this year's seems on track to provide good protection against the Influenza A strains now predominating, health officials say.

Between twelve-thousand and fifty-six-thousand deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Usually, a H3N2 portends a severe flu year, but mild H3N2 years have also occurred, she said.

Still, "I believe it's worth getting the vaccine", Siegel said. The drug works best when taken right when you get sick, so seeing your doctor early is a good move, she said.

"It's a flu virus that really hits older adults especially hard", she said.

The groups medical professionals say are at risk for the flu, older people and pregnant women. It's a real time reporting software program that can detect an outbreak of an infectious disease such as the flu very early.

"We do see a predominance of the H3N2 virus that was common last season", Flannery said.

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