What a way to begin the week…
The nation is in the coast-to-coast grips of a severe flu season, now on track to be as bad as the outbreak that caused an estimated 56,000 deaths. Currently, the flu is currently widespread in 49 states and doctors across the country continue to see more cases, more hospitalizations, and more deaths from influenza infections.
On Friday, federal health officials said the flu is hitting baby boomers hard as it continues to be widespread throughout the 49 states.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this flu season is shaping up to be a high severity season.
Similar to the 2014-2015 seasons, when the H3N2 virus also dominated, it’s estimated about 34 million Americans had flu that year.
People over 65 continue to be the group most affected, which is typical when the H3N2 dominates. Children are usually the next group, but this season the CDC says they’re seeing higher levels of hospitalizations in baby boomers 50 to 64 years old.
Dr. Dan Jernigan, Director of the Influenza Division at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC, said in a news briefing, “The reasons why baby boomers are being hit harder this year are complex. They may have to do with how flu strains have evolved over time from when they were children and how that affects immunity. Notably, it’s also an age group where there’s a lot of people and would benefit from having higher rates of vaccination.”
The best protection against the flu — and complications from the infection — is getting vaccinated.
Other common-sense practices can help you avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of the flu:
- Avoid close contact with sick people and while sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
So, what are the symptoms of the flu?
Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms hit suddenly — within a matter of hours. Symptoms include: fever, feverish chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and tiredness.
But, here’s the kicker: It’s impossible to know if you have the flu based on symptoms alone. The only way to tell for sure is to take a laboratory test, but that’s not always needed for treatment.
It was also suggested to call or visit a doctor if you aren’t improving after a few days. If you improve and then get worse, call the doctor, too, because that might be a sign you’ve developed complications.
We really need to take the flu seriously because it can cause complications that later turn fatal. Examples include pneumonia; inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues; and multiple organ failure. Flu can also make chronic medical problems worse, including asthma and chronic heart disease.
Don’t take any chances with this strain of the flu! It certainly has opened my eyes!
Join the discussion…we all should be talking about this!
As always, I am…the Boomer Explorer.