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America, it's time to prepare for the flu – Los Angeles Times



It is the most wonderful time of the year: the time when the flu makes its presence known in the United States.

You may not have thought much about the flu, but that's fine – health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been doing it for you. They say the virus had been about to run out in October, but that has changed since the beginning of November.

So far, the dominant flu strain here is of a type that generally produces more misery. It is also the type that is least vulnerable to flu vaccines. Even so, health experts recommend that you get vaccinated against the flu annually (or nasal spray), if you have not already done so.

"Maximum influenza activity" generally occurs in the United States. UU Between December and February. In other words, the flu could attack at any time. It's time to start paying attention.

7,039

This is the number of influenza samples that were confirmed by laboratory tests between October 1

and November 25. It may seem like a lot, but it's a small fraction of the almost 144,000 samples that have been tested.

90%

That is the percentage of influenza A virus samples that were subtyped and found to be of the H3N2 variety. The other 10% were H1N1 viruses, remnants of the 2009 "swine flu" outbreak.

H3N2 was the most common influenza strain in Australia during the flu season of 2017, which has just ended. Preliminary estimates by health officials suggest that the flu vaccine did not protect people, with an effectiveness of only 10%. Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health warned that Americans could be in a similar presentation.

"In the recent past seasons in which viruses A (H3N2) predominated, hospitalizations and deaths were more common, and the effectiveness of the vaccine was lower," the CDC experts wrote in the weekly Morbidity report. and Mortality Weekly.

5

That is the number of "novel" viruses that have been found in people for the first time. All five of these viruses are strains of influenza A, and all of them appear to be variants of influenza that are known to circulate in pigs.

People who became ill with them were from Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio. . Three of the five victims had recent direct contact with pigs; the others were exposed to sick people, which increases the possibility of limited transmission from human to human. The five patients have recovered completely from the flu, although two required hospitalization.

3

The amount of anti-influenza drugs that are effective against influenza strains currently in circulation. They are: Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza (zanamivir) and Rapivab (peramivir). The drugs prevent new flu viruses from leaving your host cell and finding new cells to infect.

4

Number of states with "generalized" influenza activity during the week ending November 25. Three of them (Louisiana, Mississippi) and South Carolina) had a "high" number of patients with influenza-like illness, and one (Georgia) had "moderate" influenza activity.

Influenza-like and flu-like illnesses were considered "low" in 10 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia). The remaining 36 states had "minimal" flu activity.

The status of influenza activity in Puerto Rico is not clear, the CDC monitors said.

566

The number of patients hospitalized for a case of influenza. That translates into an incidence of 2 patients per 100,000 Americans. Approximately half of these patients were 65 years of age or older.

5

The number of children who have died from the flu since October 1. In previous flu seasons, the total number of pediatric deaths related to influenza has varied from a minimum of 37 to a maximum of 171. During the swine flu pandemic, 358 children died of influenza between April 15, 2009 and the October 2, 2010.

Millions

The (approximate) number of Americans who could be prevented from getting the flu by getting a flu shot, even if the vaccine's effectiveness is between 30% and 60%. Vaccination would also prevent tens of thousands of hospitalizations related to influenza.

38.6%

The percentage of Americans older than 6 months who received a flu vaccine or nasal spray at the beginning of November. That's a little lower than it was at the same time last year, when 39.8% of Americans had been vaccinated.

Flu vaccine producers hope to make between 151 million and 166 million doses of flu vaccine this season. More than 148 million doses have already been distributed.

0

Number of "universal" influenza vaccines approved for use. But scientists are working on them. They would train the immune system to recognize and attack parts of the influenza virus that are common to all strains of influenza. That would eliminate the need for annual flu vaccines.

karen.kaplan@latimes.com

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