Early Flu Season Now?
Could we be in the midst of an early flu season? Reports are coming in of flu cases being reported around the United States in all but 16 states. Four cases alone are reported in Maryland with one child being hospitalized. The flu can be deadly in children 5 and under. The flu season usually peaks in November and goes right through April.
According to the CDC,
the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in the United States during the week of October 7 through October 13 was 3.9%. This is somewhat elevated for this time of year. The regional percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses ranged from 0.4% to 7.7%.
The CDC also went on to report that the proportions of death attributed to pneumonia and influenza based on the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System was at the epidemic threshold. One pediatric death was reported last week from influenza. It normally takes 3 weeks of influenza to peak from the start of cases. Since these cases are being reported now they had to have started back in early October.
What Causes The Flu Season To Start Now?
- Colder temps when people stay inside and are in closer proximities
- Viruses linger more on surfaces in dryer cool weather like door knobs
- Lack of sunlight can lead to the virus not being damaged by ultraviolet light of the sun
- Vitamin D protection from the sun causes people’s immune system to drop
- Flu viruses become enhanced in cold and dry weather conditons
What Can One Do To Protect Themselves During Flu Season?
- Get a flu shot – espeically if you are very young or old, have a weakened immune system or certain conditions that are more susceptable to catching the flu
- Wash Hands Frequency
- Stay away from sick people whenever possible
- Get enough sunlight and/or vitamin D
- Be sure to get enough rest to support your immune system
- Healthcare workers – invest in fluid protecting scrubs that can protect you from bodily fluids you encounter in your work
What will you do to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu this flu season?
2 Flu Mutations Can Make A Difference
A Korean-US research team recently identified a H1N2 strain of the flu that is capable of killing ferrets and spreading quickly among them. The team exposed the ferrets to four flu viruses isolated in Korea. According to the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , one of the H1N2 isolates caused severe or fatal illness in the animals and spread to other ferrets housed nearby without any direct contact. It only took 2 flu mutations to cause them to die.
How Did The Ferrets Get Sick?
- Major weight loss after 3 days
- High fever
- Labored breathing
- Died after 7 days, others had to be euthanized at 7 and 10 days because they were so sick.
Why were ferrets chosen to test the 2 flu mutations?
Because ferrets share many anatomical and physiological features with humans. They are extensively used as experimental subjects in biomedical research, in fields like virology, reproductive physiology, anatomy, endocrinology, and neuroscience. Ferrets have also been used in the treatment of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, SARS, cystic fibrosis and gastrointestinal disease to name a few. Ferrets do not have the same antibodies
though as we humans have.
The researchers also tested the transmissibility of the flu the researchers placed uninfected ferrets in cages near each of the infected ones. They were placed to not have close enough contact for any direct contact. Only Sw/1204 spread via respiratory droplets to all three uninfected ferrets. One of these contact ferrets died 12 days after exposure, and another was euthanized because of severe illness.
The researchers continued this experiment with other mutations of the 4 flu viruses and found the same outcomes. This research was started before the swine flu moratorium
took place. The moratorium focused on H5N1 which was not used in this particular research.
One has to wonder if this type of mutation takes place what will happen to humans if they are near each other and spread it without touching, sneezing, etc.
Do you think we will be ready for a flu pandemic?
CDC Confirmed The Latest Swine Flu Outbreak Spread from Human to Human
The CDC has confirmed some of the H3N2V virus cases to have spread from human to human. They have 3 instances of where the virus has spread from human to human as most of the recent cases were from pigs at state fairs. It was originally thought the spread of the swine flu could not be from person to person.
Since our last post on swine flu the recent cases have risen to 276 cases in 10 states throughout the United States. 13 of the cases involved patients being hospitalized. There have been no deaths related to this most recent swine flu outbreak. 1/3 of the cases are from the state of Ohio. The ages are from 6 months old to 51 years old in Ohio alone.
The CDC also stated that the swine flu cases of person to person contact have not been easily spread. The recent swine flu cases appear to be from children that were at the fairs and had close contact with other family members. The CDC has also urged school administrators to be on the lookout for any flu like cases and report the new cases to them. The spike in flu activity has seemed to spike off from last week’s flu update. They will continue to be monitoring this situation carefully to see if there are any more person to person cases or mutation of the swine flu virus.
What can you do to prevent yourself from getting infected?
- Wash your hands when touching any animals thoroughly – enough to sing happy birthday two times
- Young children and older adults should avoid or be extra careful around animals
- Avoid any animals that look sick
- If you have pigs and they look sick, report it to your veterinarian immediately
- Wash your clothing thoroughly and preferably in hot water if you attended fairs or were in contact with any farm animals
Have you or someone you know come down with swine flu?