Medicine

Three Lewis County Deaths Linked to Influenza

Three Lewis County Deaths Linked to Influenza

"I wish that there were better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pediatric flu deaths are rising, too, with 63 children now dead from the flu so far this season, according to the CDC.

People with underlying health conditions who are between the ages of 2 and 64 should consult their doctor about which vaccines they should receive and when. A popular second-grade teacher, Heather Holland, in the small town of Weatherford, Texas died from the flu after she put off picking up a prescription because of the medication's more than $100 co-pay.

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus which is spread by infected people coughing, sneezing or touching a surface handled by others. It is 59 percent effective in protecting kids ages 6 months through 8 years from the H3N2 flu virus.

As this year's flu season grows more dire, health officials are saying the vaccine's effectiveness may be a contributing factor.

"It is a tragedy for this community that two children died from the flu", said Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health and CEO of WDGPH, in a press release.

"One thing we do know about influenza, seasonal influenza, is that it is unpredictable", she says.

Frieden, who is now the CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit that focuses on preventing epidemics, says this year's flu season, while worse than expected, didn't totally catch us off guard.

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The CDC estimates that more than 17,000 people in the US have been hospitalized with flu-related illness since October.

Meanwhile, during the sixth week of the year, 7.5% of people who visited their doctors complained of flu-like illness. So why does this season's flu seem more ruthless than others?

Pneumococcal bacteria, which cause some cases of sepsis and meningitis as well as pneumonia, may be responsible for about a third of bacterial infections related to flu.

Challenger calculated its latest financial loss projections partly using an average hourly wage of about $26.75, eight-hour shifts and an estimated 25,000,000 workers affected by the flu.

Flu has been particularly widespread this year, at times affecting virtually all of the United States. OR and Hawaii, the exceptions, both recorded regional activity for the fifth week of the year.

"This year's strains of flu that are circulating, there is the H3N2 which is a little more novel, we don't have as much natural immunity against it".

He added that older people generally have less effective immune systems and that many Americans over 65 are facing an extra challenge when it comes to H3N2.


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