Updated: Mar 5, 2020
The Corona Virus in China is big news but let’s not take our eye off the virus we have right here at home. The United States may be gearing up for one of the worst flu seasons in years, health experts predict.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Friday that there have been 32 pediatric deaths so far this season. That’s the most flu-related deaths we’ve seen in children since the CDC started tracking flu numbers 17 years ago.
That’s the most flu-related deaths we’ve seen at this point in the season in years, though that’s largely due to the earlier start we got this year. (To put this into perspective, at this time last year, there had only been 16 pediatric deaths.)
Most of the pediatric deaths have been linked to influenza B — a strain young children are particularly susceptible to. Now, influenza A appears to be gaining momentum, upping the risk that this flu season will be even more severe than expected.
In total-since October 2019, there have been at least 9.7 million cases of the flu, at least 87,000 flu-related hospitalization, and up to 19,000 deaths, according to the CDC.
Forty-six states plus Puerto Rico are currently experiencing widespread flu activity, though the type of strain and incidence vary from region to region.
“Since mid-December, influenza activity has really ramped up,” said Marie-Louise Landry, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease expert and the director of the Yale Clinical Virology Laboratory. “All four influenza strains are circulating, but so far A/H1 and B/Victoria have been more common.” (1)
What causes the Flu
While more than 100 different viruses can cause a cold, the flu is caused by only a select few viruses identified as Human Influenza Virus Types A, B and C. But these viruses are subject to genetic re-assortment and mutation as they are transmitted from bird to swine and then to humans or from human to human producing new subtypes or strains on a yearly basis.
Hence, our adaptive immune system may have created antibodies against last year’s flu virus, which are ineffective against this years new strain. This makes it very challenging for research scientists to create a vaccine each year that is effective against this constantly mutating virus.
To complicate matters even more there is no vaccine for the C strain, and there are many flu-like viruses, for which there are no vaccines, that circulate around and infect people with symptoms similar to the flu, which include, fever, chills, sore throat, chest congestion, coughing, runny nose, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and sometimes nausea and vomiting.
Why flu in the Winter?
The flu virus is very contagious and is spread when you either inhale the water droplet aerosols suspended in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by coming into direct contact with infected mucous secretions on hands, tissues or smooth surfaces like table tops, door handles or dish and silverware. One of the most common ways to come into contact with the flu virus is by shaking hands with someone who is ill.
The winter air is cold and tends to be dry, which allows the virus to stay air born longer. Additionally, the flu virus survives longer in the cold air, in some cases up to 24 to 48 hours on smooth surfaces and 8 to 12 hours on porous surfaces
Preventing the flu
Wash your hands before rubbing your eye or putting your fingers in your mouth or nose. One of the most common ways to be exposed to a virus is through hand to surface to face contact.
Stay well nourished by eating adequate lean protein which supports the blood sugar and plenty of vegetables and fruits, which contain the nutrients that support the immune system. Skipping meals or eating sugary, highly refined carbohydrate meals can increase cortisol levels, which suppresses the immune system. Get adequate rest to insure that your body can regenerate and repair tissue. Inadequate rest results in elevated immune suppressing cortisol.
Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Probiotics all support the Immune System.
If you do get Sick
Stay Home and go to Bed
Drink Garlic Honey lemon tea-along with plenty of other fluid
Take Elderberry Syrup- In a Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is a personal choice. It is estimated that the flu vaccine reduces your chances of getting the flu by about 60%. In general, the flu vaccine works best among healthy adults and older children. Older people, individuals with chronic illness and children under two years of age may develop less immunity. The flu vaccines effectiveness is also dependent on how well the vaccine matches that years particular virus strains. Many people are concerned about the mercury- based preservative thimerosal used to prevent bacteria or fungi contamination of the vaccine. While the FDA has approved thimerosal as safe, there is still some controversy regarding the roll of mercury in autism.
I have read that It is possible to request and receive the vaccine thimerosal free in a single-dose vial but since I do not get the vaccine I have no first hand knowledge on this.
NOTHING IN THIS article IS INTENDED AS, OR SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS, MEDICAL ADVICE. ANY HEALTHCARE AND/OR NUTRITIONAL MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS article IS FOR CONSUMER INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. SUCH MATERIAL IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE FOR CONDITIONS OR TREATMENT, NOR IS IT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION BY A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL. CONSUMERS SHOULD CONSULT THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS FOR INDIVIDUAL MEDICAL RECOMMENDATIONS.
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