“I was just reading a report on the search for a more universal type of flu immunization that will cover many more strains”. The strain of influenza B virus now circulating is a good match to this year’s vaccine.
Thousands of people die each year of influenza.
The reason vaccines are less than flawless is that the four strains of flu included in the vaccine must be chosen six months before the shots are given to allow time to cultivate and distribute the vaccines.
“While there are indications the flu season may now be peaking, we also know that the flu season will be continuing for many more weeks”, said Jim Blumenstock, chief of health security for the Assn. of State and Territorial Health Officials, in a call with reporters this week.
The CDC recommends individuals presenting with symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue seek medical attention as quickly as possible. There are also many other unknown factors that cause the illness to affect people differently.
Last week saw 598 people admitted to hospital with flu, of whom 198 were so sick they had to be treated in an intensive care or high dependency unit.
It’s been a rough flu season. Twice a year, Webby and other experts gather at the World Health Organization Influenza Vaccine Composition Meeting to examine data from the previous flu season and determine which vaccine strains should be part of next season’s shot.
“Flu is everywhere in the US right now”, Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division in CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a conference call on January 12.
In addition, the few sneezes observed were not associated with greater viral RNA copy numbers in either coarse or fine aerosols, suggesting that sneezing does not make an important contribution to influenza virus shedding in aerosols. “Right now, the scientific community is just not on the same page about this”, he said. Most importantly it’s not too late to get a flu shot because if you do and still get sick, you should have some immunity to the strains that are circulating. “For these reasons, viruses have evolved strategies to evade detection and limit the production of interferons by host organisms”. Douglas Kirk, the chief medical officer at UC Davis Medical Center, told The Bee on Friday: “We have identified and are creating a space that is adjacent to our emergency department where we will create a flu treatment center”.
Allison Aiello, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, also studies how flu spreads and says the findings sound reasonable. Researchers are trying to reconstruct the extinct virus and understand the strain which played havoc in 1918.
“The vision of the field is that ultimately if you get the really good universal flu vaccine, it’s going to work best when you give it to a child”, Fauci said.
“We know that respiratory infections are easily transmitted”, she added.
“We’re seeing more severe illness, mainly with the H3N2”.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.