ATLANTA – Has the flu hit your house this year? Most American’s answer “Yes” this year. This week, the director of the influenza division at the CDC, Dr. Daniel B Jernigan, appeared in an interview on Good Morning America to issue a serious warning concerning this year’s unique strain of the flu virus.
This flu season the H3N2 strain of the virus is included in more cases, in the past couple of years, H3N2 has not been as widespread. “Whenever [H3N2] shows up, it causes lots of disease, lots of hospitalizations, lots of cases and lots of deaths,” Jernigan said.
Arkansas is among the states where 14% of outpatient doctor visits were for influences-like illness in the first week of the year. Arkansas is among the 26 states experiencing High Influenza-like Illness Activity. Since October 1, 2017, over 18,000 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers. In Week 1, 73 counties reported influenza cases.
The majority of reports came from Benton, Pulaski, Faulkner, Washington, Craighead, White, Saline, Garland, Jefferson, Sebastian, Pope, Lonoke, Independence, and Baxter. To date, 36 influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season among adult persons. No pediatric death has been reported in Arkansas this flu season.
Oklahoma is among the 26 states experiencing High Influenza-like Illness Activity. Currently Tulsa County has the second highest number of reported Influenza Hospitalizations (224 per 100,000) and Deaths (3 per 100,000).
According to the CDC the best way to protect against the flu is to get a flu vaccine every season. For the 2017- 2018 season, CDC recommends an injectable flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or recombinant influenza vaccine). The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during 2017-2018. It can take up to two weeks for the body to build up defenses against the virus. According to the CDC the vaccine will help reduce the number of doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and absences from school and work due to the flu.
Once you contract the flu, the best way to help is to stay home to avoid spreading the virus and consider visiting your doctor, they may prescribe you an antiviral like Tamiflu, which can make the infection less severe.