What you need to know about the current flu season

The CDC put out a video commentary today on the flu season.  The key points to know are:

  • The dominant flu virus this season is the A strain (H3N2).
  • The A strain is associated with more severe symptoms than other strains, or than what consumers have experienced in recent years.
    • [My mother caught the flu a few weeks ago.  It’s not fun.  She was in sufficient discomfort to warrant a call to her doctor, who advised her to stay home.  It took a week for recovery.]
  • The A strain presents a particular risk for children under two years of age; persons over age 65 and anyone with an ongoing disease that compromises the immune system.
  • Vaccination remains the best prevention.
  • For anyone with symptoms serious enough to require hospital admission, the doctor should begin flu treatment immediately and not wait from lab tests confirming the flu virus.  Quoting from the report:

“Because clinical benefit is greatest when antiviral drugs are administered early, CDC encourages clinicians not to delay decisions about starting antiviral treatment while waiting for laboratory confirmation of influenza. When indicated, antiviral treatment should be started as soon as possible after illness begins, ideally within 48 hours of symptom onset. However, antiviral treatment may still provide some benefit in hospitalized patients even when begun after 48 hours of illness onset.”

  • The recommended antiviral drugs for treatment of serious cases are oral oseltamivir, inhaled zanamivir, and intravenous peramivir.

A copy of the video presentation is available on Medscape at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/873988?nlid=111967_1521&src=WNL_mdplsfeat_170117_mscpedit_wir&uac=153634BV&spon=17&impID=1273755&faf=1.  Please note that this report is intended for medical professionals, not the general public.

The one topic this briefing does not address is whether persons who were vaccinated early in the Fall need to be re-vaccinated now.  That’s a topic to discuss with your doctor.  There has been some discussion in the medical of the efficacy of early doses wearing off before the end of the flu season. 

Note:  I’m a researcher, not a doctor.  I report information from authoritative sources that I think people should know and might not see in the general media.  If you have factual questions that I can research for you, please let me know.  If you need a medical opinion or personal diagnosis, you need to see a doctor.

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