A very bad year for the flu


So far the CDC has ranked Tennessee under widespread flu outbreak.

Flu action has expanded and is now broad in 49 states - all with the exception of Hawaii - for the week finishing January 13, as indicated by the week after week influenza report discharged Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's down from 56 hospitalizations during the previous week.

The best way to ward off the flu is by getting vaccinated, according to the California Department of Public Health. That is up from a total of 5 last week. An exception to that 14-year record is the swine flu outbreak that peaked in the fall of 2009, an unusual circumstance in which a new virus emerged and spread quickly because people had never been exposed to it.

Reports indicate this year's flu shot is only 30 percent effective, but McBee said it's important to still make sure you're protected.

H3N2 is the primary strain of Influenza A this year, though some of the cases across the province have been H1N1, he said.

In a bad season, there as many as 56,000 deaths connected to the flu.

Vaccine effectiveness typically ranges from 40 to 60 percent in a good year.

Another reason they're short: they usually stop ordering vaccines at this time of year. He leads one of several labs across the country that analyze samples from hospitalized flu patients and feed their findings to the CDC, which in turn compiles national snapshots of the flu season.

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The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported on Jan. 10 that more than 1,750 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations took place in the state in the first week of January, almost double (925) from a month before, and now more than 3,800 since flu season started in October.

Brady says it is not too late to get a flu shot. In the US, annual flu shots are recommended for everyone age 6 months or older.

Health experts still recommend people get their flu shot.

And then, she said, there are common sense flu prevention techniques - frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water.

Keep covered - Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Also, don't go to work, and don't have your children go to school, when sick. Individuals at the highest risk of developing flu related complications are individuals 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, pregnant women, individuals with low immune system, and young children. Even young, healthy adults should call their doctor if symptoms don't improve or get worse after three to four days of illness.

Locally, in Columbiana County, flu cases have seen a dramatic increase this year compared to two years ago.

Dr. Ben Spitalnick, a Savannah pediatrician, said in a recent interview, his office is seeing a wave of children whose parents wish they got their kids vaccinated or wished the vaccine worked better.