Peak of flu season begins

This year, health officials aren't even sure we've hit the peak yet.

Meanwhile, the country is also trying to get a handle on one of the most severe flu seasons in recent history. This vaccine is one that may help the immune system do a better job at fighting off the flu each year.

Chatham County health officials say the flu virus is back with a vengeance this season and they're cautioning locals to do everything possible to avoid getting sick.

So why is the flu so bad this year? Flu usually does the most damage in February and March, he said. Then, in late December and early January, the epidemic appeared to be striking nearly everywhere in the country at the same time - giving the agency's flu map an unusually uniform look.

A CDC spokesperson told BuzzFeed News late Friday that the flu reports might be issued more slowly than usual.

Meanwhile, at the Memorial Health system, spokesman Michael Notrica said providers screened almost 3,000 patients for the flu from early August 2017 to early January. Researchers found that the air in the general vicinity of patients who had the flu virus was contaminated.

Beer said if people are experiencing flu symptoms such as sudden onset of fever, chills, body aches and upper respiratory symptoms, they should contact their medical provider because antiviral medications may lessen the length and severity of symptoms. Most commonly, human infections with variant viruses occur in people with exposure to infected pigs (e.g., children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry).

The flu has been particularly severe this year, due in part to the especially prevalent Influenza A H3N2 strain. The vaccine is typically more effective against influenza B.

Who is most at risk?

Studies have shown that even a vaccine that has lower overall effectiveness can decrease the number of days spent in hospital, duration of the flu and the degree of symptoms. Throughout CDC, more than 8,500 employees would be furloughed.

In sick children, asthma, neurological conditions, obesity and heart disease are being reported.

"It is widespread", said Adrienne Byrne, Sedgwick County Division of Health director.

As of last Saturday, Pennsylvania reported 32 deaths from flu with 25 of those in.

There were 10 additional flu-related deaths among children during the week ending January 13, bringing the total for the season to 30 deaths. New Jersey reports only children's flu deaths. Final counts were 148 in 2014-2015; 92 in 2015-2016; and 110 in 2016-2017. Over 5,000 people have had to be hospitalized because of the flu this season.

"To be honest, in the USA today, there's so many people walking around with at least one comorbidity - diabetes or hypertension or congestive heart failure or COPD - you're talking about a tremendous number of people", said Ardolic.

Noticing an unusually high number of people sneezing, coughing and calling out of the office?

Generally speaking, any occupation where you are around a lot of other people will put you at a higher risk of getting the flu. "It's important to know that it takes about two weeks for protection to set in".

Doctors and pharmacies all over the Bay area are still offering flu shots. Hands should be washed frequently. "If you're sick", Alles said, "you should stay home - from school, from work".

  • Joanne Flowers