Every year, some people get infected by a flu virus. The strains tend to vary from year to year. The 2017-2018 flu season was especially nasty and dangerous.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. Good habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu.

This blog will be updated when I find additional, relevant, information about the 2017-2018 flu season.

The CDC recommends the following actions to help prevent catching and spreading germs:

  • Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. Cover you mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

The CDC posted a video titled: “Prevent Flu! Get a Flu Vaccine and Take Preventative Actions” on their YouTube channel on April 5, 2017.

September 14, 2017: CNN posted an article titled: “What Australia’s bad flu season means for Europe, North America” It was written by Susan Scutti. From the article:

Australia is having a worse flu season than usual this year, with 93,711 laboratory-confirmed cases reported to its National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System as of August 18, government data show.

That’s almost 2 1/2 times more infections than in the same period last year.  According to a surveillance system report, adults over the age of 80 and children between 5 and 9 years old have been most affected.

A total of 52 deaths associated with influenza have been reported in Australia this year, compared with 27 as of this same time last year. There have also been more flu-related hospitalizations this year: 1,429, versus 719 in last year’s surveillance report…

…Australia’s state breakdown reveals that New South Wales, the nation’s most populous, is battling the most flu cases: 60,000 as of August 31. August has proved to be the worst month on record for New South Wales; government health data show 35,670 confirmed flu cases in that month, most of them in Sydney, the capital. Previously, the worst months for New South Wales had been July, with 16,686 cases; August 2016, with 13,602 cases; and August 2015, with 12,901 cases.

Dr. Vicky Sheppeard, director of communicable diseases, NSW Health, said in an email that year-to-year comparison of reported cases is “not a reliable way to judge the severity of a season unless other factors such as testing practices are taken into account.” Since 2010, she said, NSW doctors and hospitals have been using more sensitive tests so flu cases that previously might have gone undiagnosed are now reported.

Still, Sheppeard noted the high number of cases this year, particularly on the eastern seaboard where New South Wales is located.

An earlier onset this season contributed in part to the increase, the Australian Department of Health said in its surveillance report.

Influenza A (H3N2) is the predominant circulating influenza A virus nationally this year, and most of the deaths were due to this strain (81%)…

…Does Australia’s bad flu season bode ill for Northern Hemisphere nations, including the US, Canada, and across Europe?

“In general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us, [Dr. Anthony] Fauci [director of the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] said. An “intelligent guess,” therefore, is that the north will probably have a bad flu season…

September 19, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled “Why Australia Wasn’t Ready for a Dangerous Flu Season” It was written by Adam Baidawi. From the article:

…The country is reeling from a potent flu season that has had a historically high number of cases in some states, and the resulting fatalities have raised growing alarms. Last week, an 8-year-old girl from Melbourne died from influenza complications – just weeks after a 30-year-old father passed away after getting the flu.

So far this year, more than 166,000 cases of the flu have been reported through September, a sharp increase from 91,000 for all of last year and more than double the average caseload in the last five years, according to the Immunization Coalition. At least 72 people have died from the flu this year…

…In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States voted to opt for a “universal” flu vaccination, broadening the pool of people in the country considered most at risk. The result? The organization urges that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine each season.

Australia, on the other hand, focuses its messaging on the groups most at risk, like the very young and the elderly. High-risk groups also receive their influenza vaccinations free. The Health Department says “the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone from 6 months of age,” but Dr. [Tony] Bartone suggested that the government could be more absolute in telling people to get vaccinated…

…Antivaccination advocates may affect influenza vaccinations. In May, the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne released research that found that less than a third of Australian parents planned to have their child immunized against the flu this season, with 88 percent saying they were unsure about safety…

…When asked how many Australians had received the influenza vaccination this season, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department said that for now, the agency has no idea.

That points to a problem: the Australian Immunization Register only began collecting information on adult influenza vaccination rates in September. There are similar gaps in data when it comes to documenting fatalities: the Health and Human Services Department in Victoria has reported 95 influenza-related deaths, a number that, on its own, is larger than national figures…

October 12, 2017: The Frederick News-Post posted an article titled “Toddler hospitalized by swine flu returns home”. It was written by Samantha Hogan. From the article:

On Wednesday, Johnny Cook looked like any other 17-month-old….

…A week earlier, through, doctors were worried the swelling in his throat would cause his airway to close after eight days on a ventilator at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., battling bacterial pneumonia and swine flu…

…Johnny is one of two children to be hospitalized at Children’s National with swine flu after The Great Frederick Fair. The other family did not give permission to the hospital to discuss their case.

For [Britney] Spicer and her fiance, Kyle Cook, a family outing to the fair on Sept. 20 turned into a medical situation they never imagined they would be in. Johnny developed a cough that did not respond to treatments of albuterol at his pediatrician and then Fredrick Memorial Hospital.

Within an hour of each dose, Johnny wasn’t able to take a full breath.

On Sept. 25, Johnny was flown by helicopter to Children’s National Medical Center and admitted to the emergency room, where he was given a mix of helium and oxygen as his family waited for a bed in the pediatric intensive care unit to open. Despite the intervention, Johnny’s breathing continued to decline, and Johnny was moved upstairs and given a breathing mask…

…Within 24 hours, Johnny was chemically sedated and placed on a ventilator to help him breathe…

…Johnny’s respiratory symptoms could have pointed to any number of viruses. Spicer saw The Frederick News-Post’s coverage of multiple pigs testing positive for swine flu, she brought the news to the attention of a nurse. Within hours, the medical team came back with a positive swine flu test for Johnny as well.

Spicer and Cook had wheeled Johnny in his stroller through the livestock barns at the fair…

October 30, 2017: Science Daily posted an article titled “How flu shot manufacturing forces influenza to mutate” The source was Scrips Research Institute. From the article:

According to a new study from scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), the common practice of growing influenza vaccine components in chicken eggs disrupts the major antibody target site on the virus surface, rendering the flu vaccine less effective in humans…

…For more than 70 years, manufacturers have made the flu vaccine by injecting influenza into chicken eggs, allowing the virus to replicate inside the eggs and then purifying the fluid from the eggs to get enough of the virus to use in vaccines.

The subtype of influenza in this study, called H3N2, is one of several subtypes shown to mutate when grown in chicken eggs, and the researchers say the new findings further support the case for alternative approaches to growing the virus…

…The new study shows exactly why egg-based manufacturing is a problem for the H3N2 subtype. As H3N2 influenza has become more prevalent, scientists formulating the seasonal flu vaccine have sought to include this virus and teach the human immune system to fight it. Despite this effort, recent flu vaccines have proven only 33 percent effective against H3N2 viruses…

…This means a vaccine containing the mutated version of the protein will not be able to trigger an effective immune response. This leaves the body without protection against circulating strains of H3N2…

…The researchers say further studies are needed to investigate replacing the egg-based system. “Other methods are now being used and explored for production of vaccines in mammalian cells using cell-based methods and recombinant HA protein vaccines,” said [Ian] Wilson [D.Phil, Hansen Professor of Structural Biology at TSRI]…

January 4, 2018: The New England Journal of Medicine posted a Perspective titled “Chasing Seasonal Influenza – The Need for a Universal Influenza Vaccine” It was written by Catharine I. Paules, M.D.; Sheena G. Sullivan, M.P.H., Ph.D.; Kanta Subbarao, M.B., B.S., M.P.H.; and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.  From the Perspective:

…The cornerstone of influenza prevention and epidemic control is strain-specific vaccination. Since influenza viruses are subject to continual antigenic changes (“antigenic drift”), vaccine updates are recommended by The WHO each February for the Northern Hemisphere and each September for the Southern Hemisphere. This guidance relies on global viral surveillance data from the previous 5 to 8 months and occurs 6 to 9 months before vaccine development. In addition, there are always several closely watched strains circulating; therefore, experts must combine antigenic and genetic characterization and modeling to predict which strains are likely to predominate in the coming season.

Vaccine mismatches have occurred in years in which circulating influenza strains change after the decision is made about vaccine composition, resulting in reduced vaccine effectiveness. For example, during the 2014-2015 influenza season in the United States, more than 80% of the circulating influenza A (H3N2) viruses that were characterized differed from the vaccine virus, and vaccine effectiveness was only 13% against influenza A (H3N2). This mismatch most likely contributed to the severity of the 2014-2015 influenza season and the substantial related morbidity and mortality among people over 65 years of age…

…Another factor that may alter the effectiveness of influenza vaccines is the substrate used to produce them. In the United States, most influenza-vaccine viruses are propagated in egg, although a small proportion are produced either in cell culture or by expressing specific viral proteins using recombinant DNA technologies. During the egg-based production process, the vaccine virus acquires amino acid changes that facilitate replication in eggs, notably changes in the hemagglutinin (HA) protein that mediates receptor binding. Since the influenza HA is the primary target of neutralizing antibodies, small modifications in this protein can cause antigenic changes in the virus and decrease vaccine effectiveness. Egg adaptation has been postulated to contribute to low vaccine effectiveness, particularly with influenza A (H3N2) viruses; however, the true impact is largely unknown…

January 6, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the FluView Weekly Report titled “2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 1 ending January 6, 2018” From the report:

  • Viral Surveillance: The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 1 was influenza A (H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remained elevated.
  • Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality: The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was at the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System
  • Influenza-associated Pediatric Deaths: Seven influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • Influenza-associated Hospitalizations: A cumulative rate of 22.7 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • Outpatient Illness Surveillance: The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) was 5.8%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City and 26 states experienced high ILI activity; Puerto Rico and 10 states experienced moderate ILI activity; the District of Columbia and six states experienced low ILI activity; and eight states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • Geographic Spread of Influenza: The geographic spread of Influenza in 49 states was reported as widespread; Guam and one state reported regional activity; the District of Columbia reported local activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity; and Puerto Rico did not report.
  • New York City and 26 states experienced high activity (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming)
  • Puerto Rico and 10 states experienced moderate ILI activity (Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin)
  • Eight states experienced minimal ILI activity (Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Utah)

January 8, 2016: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health posted a video on YouTube titled “Influenza – Flu”.

January 8, 2018: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Already ‘Moderately Severe,’ Flu Season in U.S. Could Get Worse” It was written by Donald G. McNeil Jr. From the article:

This winter’s flu season is turning into a “moderately severe” one that might get worse because of an imperfect vaccine and steady cold weather, flu experts and public health officials said this week.

The flu is now widespread across the country and the peak of transmission probably occurred during the Christmas-New Year’s holiday week, just as many people were crowded into planes, busses and cars or in large family gatherings, said Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 80 precent of cases are of the H3N2 strain, which caused many hospitalizations and deaths this year in Australia, where winter comes in July and August….

…According to the C.D.C’s FluView Index, which is updated each Friday, this season’s infection rate is closely echoing that of the 2014-15 season, which was also a predominantly H3N2 year and also rated “moderately severe.”…

…The H3N2 component of Australia’s flu shot was reported to be only 10 percent effective at preventing infection and is the same as in North American shots. Both Dr. Jernigan and Dr. Fauci [Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease] said they expected to see roughly 30 percent effectiveness when data is collected at season’s end, in part because more healthy people get their shots.

The vaccine mismatch was not caused by a genetic shift in the circulating flu, as happens in some years, but by changes in the “seed virus” used in the vaccine; as it grew in eggs, it picked up mutations foreign to human flu…

…Nonetheless, experts still recommend getting flu shots even at this late date because the season has three more months to run and because, even when shots fail to stop infection, they often prevent the worst complications: pneumonia and death…

…Some flu experts have privately complained that this year, the C.D.C appears to be promoting vaccination less vigorously than usual, especially given the “Aussie flu” worries.

Dr. Jernigan expressed surprise at hearing that, but said changes in leadership within the Trump administration might have shifted media attention away from the issue.

Normally, the C.D.C director holds a news conference each September to assess the coming season and urge Americans to get vaccinated. This year, Dr. Jernigan noted the news conference was held by Tom Price, who was then the secretary of health and human services, which oversees the C.D.C., Dr. Price, a physician, publicly got a flu shot.

But Dr. Price was at that time under intense scrutiny for his private jet travel, and political reporters were following his every move more closely than health reporters. He resigned under pressure the day after getting his shot…

January 8, 2018: The New York Times posted an opinion piece titled: “We’re Not Ready for a Flu Pandemic”. It was written by Michael T. Osterholm, a professor and director for the Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. It was also written by Mark Olshaker, a writer and documentary filmmaker. From the opinion piece:

The influenza season is just getting started in the United States, and it already promises to be more severe than usual. Hospital emergency rooms are filling up with flu sufferers, and pharmacies have reported medicine shortages. Twelve children had died as of last month. To make matters worse, in Australia, which experienced its flu season four to six months ago, the current vaccine appeared to be only about 10 percent effective against this year’s dominant strain.

Yet as bad as this winter’s epidemic is, it won’t compare with the flu pandemic that is almost certainly on the horizon if we don’t dedicate energy and resources to a universal vaccine.

Influenza pandemics occur when a novel animal flu virus acquires the ability to infect humans and they, in turn, transmit it to other humans. The 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic (which despite the name may have originated in the American Midwest) killed 50 million to 100 million around the globe. Accounts at the time described people falling ill in the morning and dying that night…

…The world has about four times the number of inhabitants it did in 1918, including hundreds of millions of people, poultry and pigs living close together. This provides a potent biologic mixing bowl and natural influenza virus mutation factory. What’s more, nearly any point on the planet is accessible to any other point within hours, and there are more than a billion international border crossings each year. The virus will spread rapidly.

When a pandemic does strike, we’ll be in trouble in part because American hospitals and pharmacies keep stock no more than a few days supply of most lifesaving drugs, almost all of which are made in Asia. Worldwide manufacturing and shipping are highly susceptible to disruption, which could mean shortages in many areas.

A 1918-type influenza pandemic could cause ruin on the order of what the Black Death did to 14th-century Europe, but on a global scale. Like the Black Death, such a pandemic would alter the course of history…

…We are not prepared. Our current vaccines are based on 1940s research. Deploying them against a severe global pandemic would be equivalent to trying to stop an advancing battle tank with a single rifle. Limited global manufacturing capacity combined with the five to six months it takes to make these vaccines mean many people would never even have a chance to be vaccinated. Little is being done to aggressively change this unacceptable situation. We will have worldwide flu pandemics. Only their severity is unknown…

…The next few weeks will highlight how ill prepared we are for even “ordinary” flu. A worldwide influenza pandemic is literally the worst-case scenario in public health – yet far from an unthinkable occurrence. Unless we make changes, the question is not if but when it will come.

January 11, 2018: The San Luis Obispo Tribune posted an article titled: “10 people have died of the flu in SLO County”. It was written by Gabby Ferreira. From the article:

Ten people have died of flu-related deaths in San Luis Obispo County since Dec. 10, according to Ann McDowell, an epidemiologist with the SLO County Public Health Department.

On Monday, the department said that one person – a 56-year-old woman – had died of the flu in the county. The woman had at least one underlying risk factor that predisposed her to severe complications, according to a news release.

Healthcare providers are required to report cases of the flu in patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit or deaths associated with the flu among people younger than 65.

However, since the county confirmed its first flu, authorities have performed a review of death certificates the goes back to Dec. 10, McDowell said. The review included people over the age of 65, McDowell said.

Of those deaths, two people under 65 died from the infection. The other patients were all over 65…

…In Santa Barbara County, six people have died in the past two weeks, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. All of them were over the age of 65.

January 12, 2018: NPR posted an article titled “Flu Season Is Shaping Up To Be A Nasty One, CDC Says” It was written by Rob Stein. From the article:

The United States appears to be in the midst of an unusually severe flu season, officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The flu season started early, which is never a good sign, and the flu is already widespread throughout the country, the CDC’s latest report shows. Half of states are reporting especially intense flu activity…

…Based on the latest available data, the United States could be experiencing one of the most severe flu seasons in year, possibly similar to the severe 2014-2015 flu season, officials say…

…Officials cautioned, however, that the flu is very unpredictable. So there’s a chance the season could slow down quickly or end early, making it a more normal flu season.

But the most recent date show that the proportion of people rushing to their doctors to get treated for the flu has already hit 5.8 percent, which is as high as that number gets during the peak of a really bad flu season, the CDC says.

In addition, the rate at which Americans are being hospitalized for the flu almost doubled in the last week, to 22.7 for every 100,000 hospitalizations, according to the CDC…

…So far, 20 children have died from the flu, compared with a total of 101 last season…

…The main reason the flu appears to be so severe is that it’s a strain known as H3N2. That strain tends to make more people sick, and the people who get the flu tend to get sicker. It’s especially dangerous for children and the elderly…

…To make matters worse, the vaccine may only be about 30 percent effective against that strain. That is better than the 10 percent effectiveness reported in Australia, which has its flu season before the United Staes does and often predicts what will happen in this country.

…Nevertheless, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated. Any protection is better than none. And the vaccine may end up being more effective, especially if other strains of the flu become more common. The vaccine is more effective against those other strains. The vaccine can also lessen the severity of illness in people who get sick…

January 13, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 2 ending January 13, 2018.  From the report:

  • The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 2 was influenza A(H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories increased
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Ten influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported
  • A cumulative rate of 31.5 laboratory confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 populations was reported
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 6.3%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, Puerto Rico, and 32 states experienced high ILI activity; the District of Columbia and six states experienced low ILI activity; and three states experienced minimal ILI activity
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 49 states reported as widespread; Guam reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and one state reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity.
  • During week 2, New York City, Puerto Rico, and 32 states experienced high activity (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming)
  • Nine states experienced moderate ILI activity (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island)
  • The District of Columbia and six states experienced low ILI activity (Connecticut, Michigan, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, and Washington)
  • Three states experienced minimal ILI activity (Delaware, Maine and Montana)

January 13, 2018: CNN posted an article titled: “Flu stomps the nation, overwhelming ERs and leaving 20 children dead” It was written by Susan Scutti. From the article:

…However, flu can also claim the lives of healthy adults such as Jenny Ching, 51, who died January 5 after battling what she thought was just a bad cold.

Her husband, Matt Ching, told CNN affiliate WCVB that the Massachusetts resident “had the flu, and she also developed a bacterial infection, and it was really severe and caused severe pneumonia, and her body just didn’t react to antibiotics.”

Ching said he wasn’t sure whether his wife had gotten a flu shot this season, through in seasons past, that was the norm for the mother of two boys, ages 9 and 7.

[Dr. William] Schaffner noted that “the usual flu death is a person who gets influenza, gets all that inflammation in their chest and then has the complication of pneumonia.” The flu “can take a perfectly healthy person — a child, young adult, robust — put them in the ER in 24 to 48 hours.”

That was the case for Kyler Baughman, 21, who died unexpectedly December 28 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. “Robust” characterizes Baughman perfectly.

The Latrobe, Pennsylvania, resident, who often posted pictures of himself at the gym on Facebook, was studying to be a physical trainer and worked not one but two jobs, his mother told CNN affiliate WPXI…

…On December 26, Baughman went to work but left early because he wasn’t feeling well. The next day, he visited the ER at Westmorland County Hospital. Health personnel immediately decided to fly him top UPMC, where he died less than 24 hours later.

The cause of his death, as reported by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner, was influenza, septic shock and multiple organ failure. Unlike the usual flu death resulting from pneumonia complications, Shaffner said, “this is a different phenomenon.”

The viral flu infection stimulated an immune and inflammatory response in Baughman’s body. “This happens to everyone,” Shaffner noted, but when the person is a “very strong, robust person,” there are times when that response is “overwhelming”. In such cases, cytokines– proteins created as part of the inflammatory response — create a “cytokine storm” in the body. “And this cytokine storm can actually lead to sepsis in the person.”…

January 13, 2018: The Atlantic posted an article titled: “The Perfect Storm Behind This Year’s Nasty Flu Season”. It was written by Sarah Zhang. From the article:

…According to the numbers, this year’s flu season is in fact worse than usual. It got started early, and it’s been more severe. Twenty kids have died of the flu since October. And in the week ending January 6, 22.7 out of every 100,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. were for flu – twice the number of the previous week…

…Several factors have come together to make this year’s flu worse for patients who get sick and for hospitals to treat them.

First, the virus. Fears of a bad flu season began in the early fall, after public health officials noticed a worse-than-average flu season in the Southern Hemisphere. The dominant circulating strain this year is H3N2, which hits humans harder than other strains…

…Second, the vaccine. This year’s vaccine was only 10 percent effective against the problematic H3N2 strain in Australia…

…Hospitals are dealing with more flu patients at the same time that they’re running out of IV bags – basic equipment that is in distressingly short supply across much of the country these days. IV bags, along with a lot of other medical equipment, are manufactured in Puerto Rico. The blackout after Hurricane Maria massively disrupted manufacturing on the island. The plants making IV bags have reconnected to the power grid, but hospitals are still not getting a reliable supply…

January 16, 2018: The Los Angeles Times posted an article titled: “California hospitals face a ‘war zone’ of flue patients – and are setting up tents to treat them”. It was written by Soumya Karlamangla. From the article:

…The huge numbers of sick people are also straining hospital staff who are confronting what could become California’s worst flu season in a decade.

Hospitals across the state are sending away ambulances, flying in nurses from out of state and not letting children visit their loved ones for fear they’ll spread the flu. Others are canceling surgeries and erecting tents in their parking lots so they can triage the hordes of flu patients.

“Those are all creative things we wouldn’t typically do, but in a crisis like this, we’re looking at,” said Michelle Gunnett, a nurse who oversees emergency services for a Southern California hospital system.

Staff members at Torrance Memorial Medical Center have been working long hours to care for a swell in sick patients that began in late December, said Dr. James McKinnell, infectious disease specialist. Some patients are incredibly ill with multiple strains of the flu, or the flu and pneumonia…

…Connie Cunningham and her staff at Loma Linda University Medical Center were triaging so many flu patients after New Year’s that they assembled what looks like a giant, brown camping tent in their emergency room parking lot. Several hospitals in California are treating flu patients in so-called “surge tents” intended for major disasters.

On a recent weekday morning, Cunningham walked through the tent, lined with folding chairs and patient beds that are separated by sheets hung from the ceiling.

Cunningham, executive director for the hospital’s emergency services, said she’d though they would dismantle the tent after a few days, but staff are still treating 60 more patients each day then usual, she said…

…Palomar Medical Center Escondido in northern San Diego County also pulled out a flu tent this month, but was still so busy that some patients were treated in the hallways, said Gunnett, a nurse who oversees their emergency services.

Now they’re running low on beds because so many patients were admitted with severe flu. Gunnett said she has started canceling scheduled surgeries and turning single-patient rooms into doubles to free up space.

At Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, hospital staff noticed flu cases mounting and began clearing out an area that was used as storage…

…On Thursday, the former storage area opened as an extension of the emergency room….

…Dominican Hospital in Sanat Cruz recently reintroduced rules they hadn’t used since the 2009 pandemic of swine flu, or H1N1. People under 16 – who are considered more likely to spread the flu – aren’t allowed to visit people at the hospital, and patients can have only one visitor at a time, said hospital president Dr. Nanette Mickiewicz…

…Many hospitals also say they’re too full to accept more patients or ambulances.

And when paramedics are allowed to drop off patients at a hospital, the emergency room is often so crowded that there aren’t available staff members to transfer care to. So the emergency responders can’t get back on the road to answer incoming 911 calls, said Kay Fruhwirth, L.A. County’s assistant director of emergency medical services…

January 16, 2018: SF Gate posted an article titled: “Flu kills San Jose mom, 40, who liked to run marathons”. It was written by Mike Moffitt. From the article:

A 40-year-old San Jose mother of three died only two days after coming down with the flu, according to news reports.

A service attended by 500 mourners was held over the seeking for Katie Denise Oxley Thomas, one of 42 Californians under 65 who have died from the disease since flu season began Oct. 1, state health officials say.

Most of the victims have been adults, and most (70 percent) haven’t been vaccinated, officials say.

Thomas’ death on Jan. 4 stunned her family. How could this happen to a robust, athletic woman who liked to run marathons?

“I can tell you that she seemed absolutely fine on New Year’s Eve and called a friend Tuesday morning saying she had a sore throat, and by Wednesday she was in the ICU,” her sister, Amber, told the San Jose Mercury News.

According to her family, Thomas also came down with a fever and achey symptoms in addition to the sore throat on Tuesday. A trip to the doctor confirmed she had the flu, and rest at home was prescribed.

But the next day, her symptoms worsened, so she went to Good Samaritan Hospital’s emergency room. Again she was told had the flu and advised to go home.

By Wednesday night, she was having trouble breathing, so her boyfriend drove her back to the ER. She was admitted with pneumonia and put on a ventilator.

By Thursday morning she had gone into septic shock. Fever soon overwhelmed her system. Doctors desperately tried to stabilize her, but nothing worked. She died at about 5 p.m…

…Of the 42 California deaths attributed to the flu in the latest count Friday, 19 have been in greater Bay Area, including six in Contra Costa County and five in Santa Clara County.

Only three days earlier, the state tally stood at 27 flu-related deaths.

January 18, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled: “The 10-year-old was healthy as “an ox.” Then he caught a deadly case of the flu” It was written by Lindsey Bever. From the article:

Nico Mallozzi was known for his antics, his sly smile – and his good health.

The 10-year-old hockey player from New Cannon, Conn., is depicted in photographs suited up and looking fierce on the ice. His coaches said he “captivated, entertained and kept us on our toes,” according to a GoFundMe page.

His mother said “he was like an ox” – strong and never sick…

…So it was perhaps little surprise the even after he came down with the flu, Nico still wanted to accompany his team to a recent tournament in Buffalo, even though there was no chance he would play.

But during the trip to support the RoughRiders, his mother said, Nico’s health deteriorated….

…He was taken to a hospital in Buffalo, amid a particularly harsh flu season in which the entire continental United States is experiencing widespread influenza. By Sunday, the Mallozzis had decided to head home, but Nico’s condition worsened, so they called 911 while driving through the Catskills.

The boy was rushed to another New York hospital – and was confirmed dead before the end of the day, according to the New Canaan News.

New Canaan Director of Health David Reed told the newspaper that a medical examiner in New York determined that Nico died of sepsis resulting from pneumonia, a complication of influenza…

January 19, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled: “CDC’s flu tracking program to continue if U.S. government shuts down”. It was written by Julie Steenhuysen. From the article:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue its work tracking one of the worst flu seasons the United States has seen in several years even if the federal government shuts down Saturday, senior admission officials said on Friday.

The program collects data on flu activity, hospitalizations, pediatric deaths and tests the efficacy of the flu vaccine.

Earlier, the Department of Health and Human Services had released a contingency plan in case the Senate failed to pass a stopgap spending measure by a midnight deadline. According to that plan, the CDC’s flu tracking program would be suspended during a shutdown.

But late Friday night, officials told reporters on a conference call that the program would continue.

“CDC specifically will be continuing their ongoing influenza surveillance. They will be collecting data reported by states, hospitals, others, and they’ll be reporting out critical information needed for state and local health authorities to provide, track prevent and treat the disease,” an official said…

January 19, 2018: The Iron Mountain Daily News posted an article titled: “When flu killed millions”. The subtitle was “Scientists seek super-shot 100 years after pandemic.” It was written by Lauren Neergaard. From the article:

The descriptions are haunting.

Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins.

A century after one of history’s most catastrophic disease outbreaks, scientists are rethinking how to guard against another super-flu like the 1918 influenza that killed tens of millions as it swept the globe…

…researchers hope they’re finally closing in on stronger flu shots, ways to boost much-needed protection against ordinary winter influenza and guard against future pandemics at the same time….

…Labs around the country are hunting for a super-flu shot that could eliminate the annual fall vaccination in favor of one every five years or 10 years, or maybe, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last for life.

[Dr. Anthony] Fauci [of the National Institutes of Health] is designating a universal flu vaccine a top priority for NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Last summer, he brought together more than 150 leading researchers to map a path. A few attempts are entering first-stage human safety testing…

…Among the new strategies: Researchers are dissecting the cloak that disguises influenza as it sneaks past the immune system, and finding some rare targets that stay the same from strain to strain, every year…

…Lacking a better option, Fauci said the nation is “chasing” animal flu strains that might become the next human threat. Today’s top concern is a lethal bird flu that jumped from poultry to more than 1,500 people in China since 2013. Last year it mutated, meaning millions of just-in-case vaccine doses in a U.S. stockpile no longer match….

…The new vaccine quest starts with two proteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, that coat the flu’s surface.  The “H” allows full to latch onto respiratory cells and infect them. Afterwards, the “N” helps the virus spread….

…In New York, pioneering flu microbiologist Peter Palase at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine uses “chimeric” viruses – the hemagglutinin head comes from bird flu, the stem from common human flu viruses – to redirect the immune system…

January 20, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 3 ending January 20, 2018. From this Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report:

  • The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 3 was influenza A(H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories slightly increased.
  • Seven influenza-related pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 41.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 49 states was reported as widespread; Guam reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and one state reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity.
  • During week 3, widespread influenza activity was reported by Puerto Rico and 49 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.)
  • Regional influenza was reported by Guam.
  • Local influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia and one state (Hawaii)
  • Sporadic activity was reported by the U.S. Virgin Islands.

January 20, 2018: PEOPLE posted an article titled: “12-Year-Old Boy Dies One Day After Flu Screening Turned Up Negative Despite Showing Symptoms” It was written by Jason Duaine Hahn. From the article:

A mother from Michigan is warning parents about influenza after her sixth-grader – who received the flu vaccination in December – seemed to suddenly show symptoms of the virus in early January, and tragically passed away soon after.

After 12-year-old Michael Messenger vomited while eating dinner with his family on Jan. 9, his mother, Jessica Decent-Doll, took him to an urgent call center near their home when he still felt ill the next evening. Physicians screened Michael for the flu, and a rapid test for the virus came up negative. With his vitals coming back to normal, doctors gave Michael fluids and prescribed anti-nausea medication to ease his vomiting…

…Michael’s symptoms worsened by Jan. 11, and when Decent-Doll’s husband entered their son’s room that morning, he found him lying on the floor with his eyes open, but almost entirely unresponsive. He was struggling to breathe.

Decent-Doll immediately ran to the room to help revive her son, and with emergency dispatchers on the phone, Michael’s feather performed CPR as they waited for paramedics to arrive. Michael was then transported to St. John River District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour and a half later…

…The family buried Michael a week later on Jan. 18, and Decent-Doll said they are awaiting an autopsy report to determine what exactly killed their son…

January 22, 2018: Reuters UK posted an article titled: “U.S. CDC director urges flu vaccination as pediatric deaths mount” From the article:

Of the 30 U.S. children who have died from the flu so far this season, some 85 percent likely will not have been vaccinated, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who urged Americans to get flu shots amid one of the most severe flu seasons in years…

…The dominant strain during this flu season is an especially nasty type called influenza A (H3N2) that in seasons past has been linked with severe disease and death, especially in the elderly and young. This year’s flu epidemic is especially severe…

…Fitzgerald said the agency’s flu division has been on the job during the three-day federal government shutdown. Senators on Monday reached a deal to keep the government funded through Feb. 8….

…The CDC does not have numbers for adult deaths from the flu because adult flu is not a reportable disease in all U.S. states. But she said North Carolina, which collects such data, has reported 42 adult flu deaths so far this season…

…In the 2014/2015 flu season, in which the H3N2 strain was also the leading strain, there were an estimated 35.6 million cases, 710 hospitalizations and 56,000 deaths. At this point, it is not clear whether the current flu season will surpass those estimates…

January 23, 2018: WOWT 6 News posted an article titled: “Nebraska girl dies from flu, officials say” From the article:

A child flu-related death in central Nebraska has been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. State health officials say Nebraska along with the rest of the nation is experiencing a severe flu season.

The young girl from Genoa, Lily Kershaw, died Sunday morning according to a Facebook post by Twin River Kindergarten. Kershaw died of complications of the flu. School officials said Lily was a smart, kind and loving girl with a passion for learning…

January 24, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled: “Paramedics said her 6-year-old had common flu symptoms and left, she claims. Now her daughter is dead.”  It was written by Marwa Eltagouri. From the article:

Six-year-old Emily Muth first fell ill with the flu on Jan. 16. Three days later, she had difficulty breathing, so her mother, Rhonda Muth, called for an ambulance.

Muth said a paramedic told her that labored breathing was a common symptom of the flu, so the ambulance was sent back. But Emily’s breathing continue to slow, and when paramedics returned a second time, it was too late.

Emily’s sudden death was heartbreaking and unsettling to her parents and her 8- and 10-year-old brothers, Muth said…

…Emily, of Cary, N.C., is among at least 30 children across the country who have died of the flu during an nasty season that’s caused a rapid increase in the number of older people and children being hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the flu season typically peaks in February, the outbreak is already one of the worst on record, as the flu has touched every U.S. state, with 32 of them reporting severe flu activity….

…While young, healthy people have died of the flu, those most at risk are the elderly and young children. A 10-year-old boy in New Canaan, Conn., whose mother said was health as ‘an ox,’ died after he was rushed to a New York hospital. The mother of a 12-year-old girl in Visalia, Calif., who died of a bacterial infection that entered her bloodstream claims that doctors, overwhelmed by the rest in flu cases, misdiagnosed her daughter with the flu.

As The Washington Post’s Lena Sun reported, a particular concern for health experts is the sharp increase in people hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed cases. Nearly 6.500 people were hospitalized since the season began Oct. 1, and the overall hospitalization rate for the week ending Jan. 6 – 22.7 per 100,000 – was almost double that of the previous week. Seven children died in just the first week of January…

…What makes the threat of the flu worse is that most of the IV saline bags used in medical treatments are manufactured in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Hospitals flooded with flue patients are quickly running low on saline, leading medical staff to rely on lengthy and potentially dangerous treatments of patients…

January 25, 2018: Quartz posted an article titled: “For the first time, scientists found the flu can cause heart attacks” It was written by Katherine Ellen Foley. From the article:

…Now, scientists have found evidence that the virus may be even more dangerous than we previously thought. On Jan. 24, researchers from Canada published the first paper connecting the flu to heart attacks in adults.

“We can say that this is influenza, without a question, that is associated with [heart attacks],” said Jeffrey Kwong, a physician and epidemiologist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, told STAT.

For their work, published… in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at data from lab and hospital data from facilities in Ontario over a period of five years between 2009 and 2014. During that time, there were 19,729 cases of people over 35 who had confirmed lab cases of the flu. Subsequently, the team looked at hospital discharge records to examine who had been hospitalized for a heart attack in the area. Of those who tested positive for the flu, 332 patients were admitted to a hospital for a heart attack within the year of their bout of flu, or 51 weeks after (35 poor souls had multiple heart attacks in that time frame).

Scientists wanted to compare the rates of heart attacks within a week of getting a flu diagnosis to the control rate of heart attacks within a nearly two-year period. There were 20 cases of the flu. The other 344 heart attacks occurred at a rate of 3.3 per week. This led researchers to the conclusion that a flu diagnosis increased the risk of having a heart attack by a factor of six…

…Scientists don’t know exactly what the risk is of heart attack with this year’s nasty strain of influenza, but broadly, this study offers an extra reason to get your flu shot in the future – and to bring your older loved ones with you.

January 25, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled: “His family thought he had a cold. A couple of days later, he died of the flu” It was written by Kristine Phillips. From the article:

Like many flu-related illnesses, Dylan Winnik’s started with a cold – and escalated quickly.

He had it for a couple of days. By Monday, he was feverish. By Tuesday, his temperature had gone back to normal, but he died that day.

The 12-year-old Florida boy became the latest casualty of an intense flu season that has so fare resulted in thousands of hospitalizations and deaths of 2 1/2 dozen children nationwide…

…Autopsy results are still pending, but his family said they’ve been told the boy died of the flu…

…The Florida Department of Health said three children, all of whom were not vaccinated, have died as a result of the flu this season. That number does not include Dylan. A spokeswoman said the agency does not have information on his death. Dylan also was not vaccinated this year, Medwin told local media outlets…

…This year’s flu season is already the most widespread on record since health officials began keeping track 13 years ago and has resulted in more deaths than what would be expected at this time of year, The Washington Post’s Lena Sun wrote. The majority of those hospitalized are older people and young children…

…Nearly the entire United States, except the District of Columbia and Hawaii, along with the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are seeing widespread flu-related incidents, according to the CDC. Flu seasons from at least the last decade weren’t nearly as bad, with a majority of the country mostly seeing only sporadic flu activity.

Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months. Flu-related incidents often begin to increase in October and November and peak between December and February. The season can last until May….

January 25, 2018: PEOPLE posted an article titled: “Indiana Mom of Two Dies From the Flu After Taking Care of Her Sick Family: It was written by Alexia Fernandez. From the article:

An Indiana mother of two died three days after receiving a flu diagnosis after she took care of her sick family members.

Karlie Illg Slaven, 37, died from complications related to the flu virus on Monday, her father, Karl Illg, told WCPO.

“They were all sick through the week but they all had their shots and they got over it pretty well.” he said.

It was after her two children began to feel better that Karlie began to experience similar symptoms that she had seen in her kids. She was diagnosed with influenza.

When doctors took X-rays of her chest, they did not find anything unusual and she was discharged. Karlie returned to the hospital the next day when she began to feel worse. When she checked in, she had pneumonia, the outlet reported.

“My wife called and said, “Get the kids dressed and get over here right away – they’ve put her in the ICU. She’s in critical condition,” Karl said.

His daughter died on Jan. 22 at about 6:30 a.m. surrounded by her husband Mike Slaven, two children, and parents.

According to Fox 59, Karlie did not receive the flu shot, but her children and Slaven did…

January 25, 2018: Gilroy Dispatch posted an article titled: “Five influenza-related deaths reported”. From the article:

An “influenza virus infection” claimed the life of a fifth Santa Clara County resident earlier this month. County officials are recommending those who haven’t already received the flu vaccination to do so, according to an announcement from the Public Health Department.

The most recent death was an individual under the age of 65 years. All five deceased residents had not been vaccinated, according to county health officials…

…Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department has seen an increase of patients who have been diagnosed with the flu. In the first week of December 2017, only 5 patients were diagnosed as having an influenza virus. The numbers continued to increase and for the week of January 1-7, 40 patients were diagnosed with influenza…

January 26, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled: “Here’s what you should know about the flu season this year” It was written by Lena H. Sun.  From the article:

…This flu season started early, and the entire country if experiencing widespread intense flu activity. The data show there’s been a very rapid increase in the numbers of people going to see their doctors or health-care providers…

…This season, the predominant strain is also the nastiest, H3N2, which causes the worst outbreaks of two influenza A viruses and two types of influenza B viruses that circulate among people and are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year. Season when H3N2 strain dominates are associated with more hospitalizations, more deaths and more illnesses. Those who are particularly hard hit are the very young, the elderly and people with certain chronic health conditions, experts say…

…But flu vaccines aren’t perfect. Even in a good year, the flu vaccine isn’t as good as most other vaccines. Health officials must choose the influenza strains that vaccine makers should target for an upcoming season months in advance, when it is hard to know what strains might be circulating. When flu vaccines are well matched to circulating viruses, effectiveness is, at best, about 60 percent. (The measles vaccine, by comparison, is about 97 percent effective with two doses.) In a year when the circulating flu strains closely match the vaccine, that effectiveness rate means that about 3 in 5 people who get shots are fare less likely to become so sick that they require a doctor…

January 26, 2018: BuzzFeed News posted an article titled “This Flu Season Is Bad, With Doctor Visits And Deaths On The Rise” It was written by Caroline Kee. From the article:

The flu is raging across the US, with widespread activity in 49 states, and influenza-associated deaths on the rise.

“It’s been a tough flu season so far this year,” Dan Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a press briefing Friday. Although flu activity is beginning to go down in parts of the country, such as California, it remains high for most of the US. In fact, 49 states have reported widespread flu activity for three weeks in a row, which is notable.

The predominant strain, H3N2 is not new, but is known for being particularly nasty. In H3N2 seasons, there are “more cases, more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more deaths, especially among older people,” Jernigan says…

…the number of influenza related deaths has risen rapidly in the past week, including seven children who died, bringing the total to 37…

…The highest hospitalization rates are still among people 65 years and older, which is normal compared to past seasons, including 2014-15. However, the second most-impacted group of people are aged 50 to 64, which is unusual. Experts do not know exactly baby boomers are being hit especially hard this year, but it could be due to theft that the strains circulating this year are different from the strains that boomers were exposed to as children…

January 27, 2018: Katherine Smith Locker, a Florida nurse, posted a video on Facebook. The video was titled “After Work Thoughts”.

In the video, she very clearly explains that people catch the flu through their eyes, nose, or mouth. She points out that this is a terrible flu season. She says “There is a cesspool of flu, a cesspool of funky flu, at the ER right now”.  She also had the following suggestions:

  • “If you have a team member from your softball team who is sick or injured, you do not bring the entire softball team in to check on them. Because, guess what? You just got maybe 15 new vectors, or carriers, of the flu by them all walkin’ in…” She points out that she watched them all walk in, see their friend, “and not touch the hand sanitizer, not once!”
  • “Please don’t bring your children, your healthy children, especially your newborn babies, into the emergency room.” She points out that some people are waiting in the emergency room for 20 or 30 minutes “with the flu right next to them”, and recommend that you don’t come to the ER unless it is a true emergency.  “Five flus came in – Fifteen flus walk out.”
  • “Here are some ideas for how to treat the flu at home: Wash your stinkin’ hands, so you don’t get all your babies sick. Treat your fever with Tylenol or Motrin.”… “You need to drink some Gatorade. Or some water, or some Poweraide, I don’t care! Hydrate yourself, get the fever down, wash your stinkin’ hands, and cover your nose.”
  • She sarcastically says “I’m gonna teach y’all a magic trick” and demonstrates how to sneeze into your elbow (instead of into the air).

The Washington Post posted an article about Nurse Katherine Smith Locker’s video on February 2, 2018.

January 27, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 4 ending January 27, 2018” From the FluView:

  • The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 4 was influenza A (H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remained elevated.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above system-specific threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Seventeen influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported, one of which occurred during the 2015-2016 season.
  • A cumulative rate of 51.4 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • A proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 7.1%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, the District of Columbia, and 42 states experienced high ILI activity; Puerto Rico and two states experienced moderate ILI activity; three states experienced low ILI activity; and three states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 48 states was reported as widespread; Guam and one state reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and one state reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity.
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, and 42 states experienced high activity (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
  • Puerto Rico and two states experienced moderate ILI activity (California and Idaho).
  • Three states experienced low ILI activity (Delaware, North Dakota and Washington).
  • Three states experienced minimal ILI activity (Maine, Montana, and Utah).

January 28, 2018: The New York Times posted an article titled: “This Flu Season Is the Worst in Nearly a Decade” It was written by Donald McNeil Jr. From the article:

This year’s flu season is now more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and still getting worse, federal health officials said on Friday.

Nationally, the number of people falling ill with flu is increasing. More working, the hospitalization rate – a predictor of the death rate – has just jumped.

It is now on track to equal or surpass that of the 2014-2015 flu season. In that year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, 34 million Americans got the flu, 710,000 were hospitalized and about 56,000 died….

…This week, the deaths of seven children were reported to the C.D.C, bringing this season’s total to 37. In 2014-2015, there were 148 pediatric deaths – which the agency tracks individually, not by estimates as it does with death totals…

…Despite the late date, the agency still recommends that Americans get flu shots. Because some doctors have none left, Dr. [Daniel B.] Jernigan suggests checking vaccine finder.com to find providers with stocks.

Some areas also have shortages of antivirals like Tamiflu, he said, and the C.D.C. is trying to help the supply chain move medicines to where they are needed most…

…Despite the efforts of public health officials, the number of people getting shots each year has begun falling slightly…

…The intense 2008 swine flu pandemic, which sent demand for vaccines soaring, was followed by several mild flu years. Then the “moderately severe” season of 2014-2015 was all but ignored by health reporters because they were focused on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa…

…California and the West Coast have been hit hard, with four times as many people hospitalized as in 2014-2015, Dr. Jernigan said. Minnesota had twice as many. New York and the Northeast “are beginning ot catch up,” he said…

January 28, 2018: MyAJC posted an article titled: “Flu season to be worst in a decade” It was written by Helena Olivero. From the article:

This year’s flu season is shaping up to be the worst in nearly a decade – and it’s far from over.

So many people have fallen sick with influenza in Georgia and across the country that some pharmacies are running out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are seeing a surge in patients, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.

During the third week of the year, which runs from Jan. 14 – Jan 20, there were 115 hospitalizations in metro Atlanta due to influenza, marking a sharp increase from 40 hospitalizations in metro Atlanta during the previous week.

There have also been a total of 25 confirmed influenza-related deaths in the state this flu season, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. That is up from a total of 12 last week. Of those who died from flu-related deaths, all 25 were over teh age of 50 with 20 of those who died over the age of 65…

…This season, the predominant flu strain is H3N2, a form of influenza A. This flu strain is associated with more severe illness, especially among children and the elderly. This strain is included in this year’s flu vaccine, but viruses can change and this particular strain tends to mutate more than other strains…

…Also this year, it’s not just the usual older residents over 65 who are being hit particularly hard as flu season rages – people 50 and older are reeling from flu cases. While the hospitalization rates are highest among adults 65 and older, health officials said adults ages 50 to 64 were the next most likely to be hospitalized. It’s not clear why this is happening. Officials say one possibility may be the mix of viruses circulating this season, particularly H3N2, and the different levels of immunity people have developed to those viruses over time. Baby boomers also tend to have lower rates of flu vaccine than older adults….

January 29, 2018: Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an article titled: “Parents hope Las Vegas boy’s flu death will serve as warning”. it was written by Jessie Bekker. From the article:

Last Christmas, the Occhipinti household was a dream…

…Three days later, the script flipped.

Her 12-year-old “goofy” son, Carlo Jr., or Junior for short, came down with a sore throat and fever.

When it didn’t to away by the next day, Occhipinti took him to his pediatrician.

“I figured if he has strep throat, then they might give him medication, antibiotics, to help,” [Brenda] Occhipinti said Thursday.

The strep test came back negative, but Junior tested positive for the flu. The doctor sent them home with directions to take Tylenol and Motrin for the fever and drink plenty of fluids.

By 2 a.m., Junior’s stomach hurt. He was pale and nauseous, and his body ached, Occhipinti recalled.

By 7 a.m., he asked his mom for help getting to the bathroom…

…Junior collapsed into his mother’s arms, blood seeping from his mouth. She called 911 and a neighbor performed CPR until paramedics rushed him to the hospital. There, doctors attempted to revive him and pump blood out of his lungs, to no avail.

Junior was pronounced dead at 9:14 a.m. Dec. 30, two days before his 13th birthday, Occhipinti said…

…Junior is one of the victims of a flu season that has caused 16 deaths in Clark County so far, compared with five last year, according to Southern Nevada Health District data released Friday…

…Junior suffered from Marfan syndrome, a genetic mutation affecting the connective tissues in the body. It can result in elongated limbs and an enlarged heart.

But the Occhipintis said Junior’s heart was checked in mid-December and appeared to be growing normally. They don’t think Marfan syndrome had any role in their son’s death…

January 29, 2018: The American Kennel Club posted an information post titled “Canine Influenza Virus Notice”. It was written by Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer of the American Kennel Club. From the article:

There have been reports of recent pockets of outbreaks of canine influenza virus (dog flu) in various parts of the country. As with the human influenza, the dog flu will remain with us. The difference now is that we know what the viruses are that cause two different strains of influenza, and that helps veterinarians to diagnose and treat the illness properly. There are now vaccines available for both known strains of canine influenza: H3N8 and the more recent H3N2. In fact, you may be able to order one vaccine for both.

Dogs most susceptible to the canine influenza are those that frequent communal activities: competitive dog events, dog parks, grooming shops, day care and boarding facilities, but all dogs can contract the virus from other infected dogs or from other vectors (inanimate objects such as dog bowls, clothing, etc.) that have recently been exposed to the virus. People do NOT become infected from infected influenza dogs, and dogs do not become infected from infected humans with the flu…

The post includes information about the canine influenza virus, the symptoms, prevention, treatment, and containment.

January 29, 2018: Detroit Free Press posted an article titled “Aggressive, widespread flu strain is hitting Michigan schools, seniors hardest”

Influenza cases have risen sharply across southeast Michigan, as a particularly aggressive strain of the influenza virus takes a toll on schools, nursing homes and health care facilities.

According to a report by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Weekly released Monday, influenza activity in the state is considered widespread with “535 positive influenza-related hospitalizations (30 pediatric and 505 adults) since October 1.

Of the 318 cases testing positive for influenza by the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories, 245 were confirmed to be the particularly aggressive H3N2, also known as Type A. Many people don’t get tested for the flu so the actual number of cases is much larger.

The report also showed that among the 195 reported cases of viral respiratory illness outbreaks, the majority – 138 – happened in long-term care/assisted living facilities, 25 in K-12 schools/colleges and 23 in health care facilities…

…In response to widespread of cases of influenza (plus an outbreak of Hepatitis A), Henry Ford Health System and Beaumont chain hospitals have banned young visitors from entering the hospital if they are not seeking treatment, in order to prevent the spread of disease.

Meanwhile, colleges and universities have pushed back by promoting immunization and offering pop-up flu clinics for quick and easy vaccinations…

…Lisa Marshall, director of the Michigan University health center and a primary care physician, said the first case of the flu on campus was recorded within the first two days of the spring semester.

Considering the number of cases and the severity of the symptoms she has seen, Allison Weinmann, a Henry Ford Hospital infectious diseases physician and director of the health system’s immunization task force, said people may find that the flu or flu-like symptoms are hitting harder than usual…

…Matthew Sims, an infectious disease researcher at Beaumont, said the state still hasn’t seen the worst yet…

…Some cases are fatal. So far this year, 37 children have died of the flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control…

January 30, 2018: The San Luis Obispo Tribune posted an article titled: “Flu now linked to 15 deaths in SLO County this season, officials say” It was written by Matt Fountain. From the article:

…San Luis Obispo County epidemiologist Ann McDowell said Tuesday that the agency has identified 15 deaths of county residents between Dec. 10 and Jan. 30 in which type B influenza is listed as a contributing factor on the death certificate. Two of those deaths were people under the age of 65.

The agency previously reported 10 deaths as of Jan. 11…

…Because the flu is not a reportable illness, the county health agency does not track exact numbers of cases and is dependent on voluntary information from hospitals, which say they’ve experienced an increase in emergency room visits due to the flu…

…In Santa Barbara County, flu is tied to the deaths of nine people 65 years of age or over, as of Jan. 20. The county’s Deputy Director of Community Health Susan Klein-Rothschild said the agency plans to release updated figures in the coming days…

January 31, 2018: Eyewitness News ABC 7 posted an article titled “4-year-old girl becomes first child to die of the flu in New Jersey this season” From the article:

A 4-year-old New Jersey girl has died of the flu, the health department said, becoming the first child death in the state during the current flu season.

The girl is from central New Jersey. Her identity has not yet been released, and authorities say she died in December.

The health department says that more than 4,000 people in New Jersey have contracted the flu this season, including 18 severe cases….

January 31, 2018: Sun Journal posted an article titled “Influenza in Maine: 4 more flu deaths, total 28”. It was written by Bonnie Washuk. From the article:

Four more Mainers died in the past week from influenza, bringing the state’s total flu deaths this season to 28 according to numbers released Wednesday by the Maine Center for Disease Control.

There have been no pediatric influenza deaths this season, according to the report.

In Maine and across the nation, the influenza outbreak continues to spread in what experts say is one of the worst years for flu cases.

In the last week, 538 people in Maine tested positive, bringing the statewide total to 2,307 influenza cases.

In Androscoggin County, 50 cases tested positive in the last week, one requiring hospitalization, That brings the county’s season total to 184, with 28 requiring hospitalization.

In Franklin County, there have been 14 new cases in the last week, bringing the total to 88. Of those, three were hospitalized.

In Oxford County, there have been 23 new cases bringing the total to 86, with 30 needing hospitalization…

February 1, 2018: Fox 5 News posted an article titled “Georgia teen dies while being treated for the flu” It was written by Morse Diggs. (The article was originally posted on January 31, 2018, and then updated on February 2, 2018). From the article:

FOX 5 News has learned more about the Georgia teen who passed away this week while being treated for the flu.

Our news partner The New Talk 106.7 spoke with Coweta County Coroner Richard Hawk, who said the 15-year-old died from an aggressive form of flu, which degraded her liver…

…Marino Molina said his daughter Kira went from seemingly healthy and totally fit to being dead in just five days. He said the initial medical check on her at a clinic showed no flu diagnoses. In fact, she appeared to snap back, temporarily feeling a bit better. That was before her father found her with absolutely no energy a couple of days ago…

…The teen was given acetaminophen to treat the flu, which is a contagious respiratory illness, spread by a virus. But, when a liver becomes degraded at an advanced stage an “oral acetaminophen” becomes detrimental to the liver, according to Hawk.

Hawk is now warning parents to closely follow medicine labels when treating children with the flu…

…On average, the CDC says flu kills about 24,000 Americans each year, and last year, the toll included 105 children. So far, at least 25 Georgia residents have died of flu this season.

February 1, 2018: WSOCTV.com TV 9 posted an article titled: “Alarming number of flu deaths has local daycare taking precautions” It was written by Stephanie Tinoco. The information in the article is about North Carolina. From the article:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials report this flu season could be the worst ever for children.

So far, 37 children have died from the flu. The alarming number is sending a strong message to parents and daycare centers

The team at Rainbow Child Care Center in Ballantyne walked Channel 9 reporter Stephanie Tinoco through their daily cleaning routine and mandatory quarantine process anytime any sort of virus breaks out.

“Everything comes off the shelf, everything is soaked in sanitizer. They wash them in soapy water, then they sanitize them, then they air-dry them,” said Patricia Metcalf with Rainbow Child Care Center.

“It’s really important right now, this flu season, to take it very seriously,” Metcalf said. “We had to send home, like five or six children and that’s a very high number. There’s been huge fatalities with our young children, not here, but in the country, so we want to do what we can to keep them safe.”

Dr. Chris Branner, a pediatric urgent care physician with Carolinas Healthcare System, said it is important for children to stay hydrated while battling the flu…

…South Carolina Health officials released updated flu numbers. A total of 84 people have died in the state. Right now, North Carolina is reporting a total of 67 flu deaths. The state is expected to release new numbers Thursday.

February 3, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 5 ending February 3, 2018” From the FluView:

  • The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 5 was influenza A (H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remained elevated.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistic (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Ten influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 59.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 7.7%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 43 states experienced high ILI activity; three states experienced moderate ILI activity; two states experienced low ILI activity; and two states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 48 states was reported as widespread; two states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and Guam reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity.
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 43 states experienced high activity (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
  • Three states experienced moderate activity (Hawaii, Idaho, and Washington).
  • Two states experienced low ILI activity (North Dakota and Utah).
  • Two states experienced minimal ILI activity (Maine and Montana).

February 5, 2018: The GW Hatchet posted an article titled “Officials warn faculty to expect absences amid flu epidemic” It was written by Elise Zaidi and Leah Potter. The GW Hatchet is an editorial and financially independent student newspaper serving The George Washington University community in downtown Washington, DC. From the article:

Administrators are warning faculty that attendance may be lower than usual as a severe flu season strikes GW.

The Colonial Health Center has so far seen double the number of flu cases this year compared to last year, according to a top official at the health center. Administrators are now encouraging faculty to be more lenient on written notes for absence because of the prevalence of the flu.

Experts say college student are particularly vulnerable to the flu because many don’t get flu vaccines and are in frequent contact with large groups of people.

Isabel Goldenberg, the medical director of the CHC, said to proven the spread of the virus, the center is encouraging students with flu-like symptoms to call ahead before seeking treatment…

…Students who aren’t fighting the flu should take measures to prevent it, like washing their hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning agents to disinfect doors, toilets, faucets and computer keyboards, she said.

In a national flu season that began in October and is expected to end in May, D.C. had already seen more then 624 reported cases as of Jan. 13, according to the D.C. Department of Health. Goldenberg declined to say exactly how many cases have been treated at the CHC or if the center has changed staffing to accommodate the influx of flu patients…

February 5, 2018: TIME posted an article titled: “7-Year-Old Indiana Girl Dies After Being Diagnosed With Flu Scarlet Fever, and Strep Throat” It was written by Alix Langone. From the article:

A first-grader from Columbus, Indiana, has died after being diagnosed with a combination of the flu, scarlet fever and strep throat, according to to local media reports.

Savanna Jessie, a 7-year-old first grader at Columbus Signature Academy’s Lincoln Elementary School, died at Columbus Regional Hospital after being found unresponsive in her bed at home Thursday morning. She died at about 6:30 a.m.

The Bartholomew County coroner’s office told the Columbus Republic that she had a high fever and tested positive for the flu, strep throat and scarlet fever before she died. The coroner is awaiting the results of a toxicology report to make a ruling on Savanna’s cause of death…

February 6, 2018: Eyewitness News ABC 7 posted an article titled: “8-year-old Queens girl among 2 pediatric flu deaths confirmed in New York City” From the article:

New York City officials said two children have died from the flu, including an 8-year-old girl from Queens.

The health department said test results confirmed the girl — who was reported to have flu-like symptoms — died from the influenza virus.

Amely Baez lived in the Lefrak City apartment development in the Elmhurst section of Queens. When she had trouble breathing, someone called 911.

She was rushed to the hospital, where she died at about 6:30 a.m. Monday.

The medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy, and found that the “death indicates the circumstances and cause were natural.”

No details have been released about the second child, other than saying it was a pediatric patient from New York City.

More than 50 children have died from the flu across the country this season…

February 6, 2018: FOX 31 Denver posted an article titled: “10-year-old Aurora girl fights back after nearly dying from flu”. It was written by Kim Posey. From the article:

A 10-year-old Aurora girl is so sick with flu and pneumonia that she is in the hospital and needs a machine to breathe.

Keyona Richardson has been in the pediatric ICU at Children’s Hospital Colorado since Wednesday night.

Her mother, Kristie Richardson, said it happened quickly.

“Wednesday, the school called and said that she had a fever. I picked her up and took her to an emergency room and she was diagnosed with pneumonia,” she said.

They went home, but Wednesday night, Richardson took her daughter back to the emergency room…

…Keyona was admitted, and by the next morning, her left lung collapsed. Not long after that, her right lung was in trouble, too…

…Keyona was put on an ECMO machine.

“It is life support. It acts as an artificial lung,” Richardson said.

It was touch and go for a while, but things are now looking up, and her parents are hopeful…

February 7, 2018: The Portland Press Herald posted an article titled: Instead of peaking, flu cases in Maine jump 63% from previous week” It was written by Eric Russell. From the article:

Last week saw a dramatic rise in the number of new flu cases and hospitalizations in Maine, adding to what already has been one of the worst years in nearly a decade.

There were 876 new cases of influenza, a 63 percent increase over the previous week, as well as 120 new hospitalizations and five deaths attributed to the flu.

The Main Center for Disease Control and Prevention released the new data Wednesday, bringing the totals for this season to 3,047 cases, 667 hospitalizations and 34 deaths. Flu season begins in October and runs through May…

…Of the 21 documented flu outbreaks last week, 19 were in long-term care facilities. An outbreak occurs when three or more cases are reported in a single location.

Last month, churches across Maine took the unusual step of suspending traditional rituals, such as sharing communion wine and shaking hands, to try and prevent the spread of flu….

February 8, 2018: BuzzFeed posted an article titled: “The Flu Is Killing Children, And Here’s What Parents Need to Know” It was written by Caroline Kee. From the article:

The US is in the middle of a severe flu season, and 63 children have died so far.

Influenza hits the US every winter, but this year’s season has been particularly rough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2017-18 influenza outbreak has now led to the highest measured hospitalization rate for the virus…

…There are still weeks to go in this flu season, and cases can pop up as late as April and May. Although flu activity is starting to go down in Western states, such as California, its still high in the rest of the US and increasing on the East Coast.

There are three strains circulating this year: H3N2, H1N1, and influenza B. The prevailing strain, H3N2, is known for being particularly vicious and is likely to cause more complications and deaths among the very old and very young….

February 8, 2018: CBS News posted an article titled: “Researchers create device to analyze how breathing transmits flu virus” From the article:

New research shows the flu spreads more easily than previously thought. At least 240 schools nationwide are closed Thursday and more than 4,500… deaths have been linked to this season’s virus. Researchers at the University of Maryland have created a one-of-a-kind device that collects virus samples from your breath and then tracks how the flu is transmitted from person to person, reports CBS News’ Dr. Tara Narula.

All you do is sit, breathe, and let the machine do the work. It’s called the Gesundheit II and it’s the brainchild of University of Maryland professor Dr. David Milton….

…The device is being used to collect and analyze the flu virus in an exhaled breath. With this virus samples, researchers are trying to track down how the flu spreads…

…”If we understand better how much of the infection is transmitted by air and what the dose in the air is, we can then figure out how to reduce your exposure,” Milton said.

They’re using student volunteers to study the mechanics of how the bug spreads by swabbing people who come in contact with infected students….

…The researchers are hoping to use these findings to create models for better ventilation systems that would make it harder for the flu and other dangerous viruses to spread. For now, the best advice is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, sneeze into your elbow, and stay at home if you’re sick.

February 8, 2016: The Oregonian posted an article titled: “Influenza by the numbers: Oregon first state to see flu take a dive (graphics)” From the article:

As one of the worst flu seasons in nearly a decade continues to thrive across the country, Oregon is the first state in the lower 48 to see the virus decline from “widespread” to “regional”.

Oregon spent six straight weeks with widespread flu activity, which resulted in the deaths of two children and 1,112 influenza-associated hospitalizations in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties since October. The state has also reported 105 outbreaks statewide, mostly in long-term health care facilities.

This flu season treated Oregon differently than the rest of the country. While strain H3N2 ravaged states nationwide, Oregon was spared and hit primarily by H1N1. H3N2, which is more common during severe seasons, is more resistant to vaccinations than H1N1.

Though the virus seems to be calming down in Oregon, emergency room visits for “influenza-like illnesses” are still higher than they’ve been in years. Currently, five percent of all emergency room visits are due to flu-like symptoms. The previous three flu seasons never rose above four percent…

February 9, 2018: The Guardian posted an article titled: “US flu season now as bad as 2009 swine flu epidemic”. It was written by the Associated Press.  From the article:

The flu has further tightened its grip on the US This season is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago.

A government report on Friday shows one of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough or other symptoms of the flu. That ties the highest level seen in the US during the swine flu in 2009.

And it surpasses every winter flu season since 2003, when the government changed that way it measures flu.

This season started early and has been driven by a nasty type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths than other more common flu bugs.

But its long-lasting intensity has surprised experts, who are still sorting out why hit has been so bad. Flu usually peaks in February.

Some doctors say this is the worst flue season they have seen in decades. Some people are saying that, too…

…The CDC said the amount of suspected flu cases at doctor offices and hospitals last week matched that of 2009, when a new swine flu epidemic swept the country and panicked many people. Swine flu, also called pandemic H1N1, was a new strain that had not been seen before. It first hit that spring, at the tail end of the winder season, but doctor visits hit their height in late October.

This flu season, hospitalization rates have surpassed the nasty season of the winter 2014-2015, when the vaccine was a poor match to the main bug….

February 9, 2018: NBC 12 updated an article titled “Funeral for 7-year old VA boy who died after contracting flu Saturday” The article was originally posted on January 29, 2018, and had been updated. It was written by Allison Norlian. From the article:

This weekend, family and friends will come together to say goodbye to a 7-year-old Virginia boy, who died after getting the flu.

Kevin Baynes Jr. died less than 48 hours after getting sick at school. The medical examiner is still working to confirm the exact cause of death, but the hospital where he died believes flu was a factor…

…Baynes is from Hurt, which is about 30 miles south of Lynchburg, and died January 28 after testing positive for flu and strep throat…

…The first grader was sent home from school after throwing up and falling asleep in class that Friday. Saturday morning, his symptoms got worse and the boy’s mother rushed him to the hospital.

“They said he had the flu and strep throat. They sent him home with amoxycillin and zofran,” said Baynes.

Not even a full 24-hours later, Kevin’s older sister found him cold and lifeless. The family tried CPR and the hospital worked to revive him, but it was too late. Kevin Jr. was gone.

The possible culprit? The flu virus…

February 9, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled “This flu season has now reached pandemic levels (but it’s not technically a pandemic)” It was written by Lena H. Sun and Lindsey Bever. From the article:

This flu season is turning out to be so intense taht the number of people seeking care at doctor’s offices and emergency rooms has surged to levels not reported since the peak of the 2009 swine flu pandemic, federal officials said Friday…

…”This does not mean we’re having a pandemic,” [Ann] Shuchat [acting director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] said. “But it is a signal of how very intense the flu season has been. We may be on track to break some recent records.”

Pandemics occur when there is a new strain of virus for which people have no previous exposure. That’s not the case here, because the seasonal strains that are circulating this year are not new. But the predominant one, H3N2, is a particularly nasty strain that is associated with more complications, hospitalizations and deaths, especially among children, those older than 65 and people with certain chronic conditions.

Another 10 children died in the week ending Feb 2, bringing the total number of child deaths since this flu season to at least 63. This is the number of reported deaths and probably does not include all children who have died. States are not required to report adult flu deaths.

February 9, 2018: Nature.com posted a Scientific Report titled: “Far-UVC light: A new tool to control the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases”. It was written by David Welch, Manuela Buonanno, Velijko Grilij, Igor Shuryak, Connor Crickmore, Alan W. Bigelow, Gerhard Randers-Pehrson, Gary W. Johnson and David J. Brenner. From the Scientific Report:

…We have developed an approach to UV-based sterilization using single-wavelength far-UVC light generated by filtered excilamps, which selectively inactivate microorganisms, but does not produce biological damage to exposed mammalian cells and tissues. The approach is based on biophysical principles in that far-UVC light can traverse and therefore inactivate bacteria and viruses which are typically micrometer dimensions or smaller, whereas due to its strong absorbance in biological materials, far-UVC light cannot penetrate even the other dead-cell layers of human skin, nor the outer tear layer on the surface of the eye.

Here we applied this approach to test the efficacy of the 222-nm far-UVC light to inactivate influenza A virus (H1N1) carried by aerosols in a benchtop aerosol UV irradiated chamber, which generated aerosol droplets of sizes similar to those generated by human coughing and breathing. Aerosolized viruses flowing through the irradiation chamber were exposed to UVC emitting lamps placed in front of the chamber window….

…Thus we and others reported in earlier studies for bacterial inactivation, 222-nm far-UVC light and 254-nm broad-spectrum germicidal light are also comparable in their efficiencies for aerosolized viral inactivation…

…If these results are confirmed in other scenarios, it follows that the use of overhead low-level far-UVC light in public locations may represent a safe and efficient methodology for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis…

…In conclusion, we have shown for the first time that very low doses of far-UVC light efficiently inactivate airborne viruses carried by aerosols…If these results are confirmed in other scenarios, it follows that the use of overhead very low level far-UVC light in public locations may represent a safe and efficient methodology for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases. Public locations such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, airports and airplanes might be considered here. This approach may help limit seasonal influenza epidemics, transmission of tuberculosis, as well as major pandemics.

February 9, 2018: The Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an article titled: “Flu claims another with death of Las Vegas woman, 24” It was written by Jessie Bekker. From the article:

Jenna Libidinsky went to the doctor Jan. 25 and four more times over the next eight days.

Doctors and nurses prescribed antibiotics, an inhaler, steroids and cough syrup.

But the 24-year-old Las Vegas woman just wasn’t getting any better…

…But this wasn’t a cough. It was the especially virulent flu strain that has spread misery and heartache across the U.S. this winter.

Neil and his wife, Marla, are among those grieving after losing a loved one to the disease. They said goodbye to their smiley girl around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday while a nurse pressed her lungs to keep her alive long enough for mom and dad to say “I love you, bugaboo” one last time.

Even before Jenna Libidinsky’s death, confirmed flu deaths in Clark County this season stood at 22, more than triple last winter’s number. There had been almost 1,000 confirmed flu cases in the county as of Feb. 3, according to Southern Nevada Health District data released Friday.

Jenna’s death was especially shocking, given her age and the fact that she was in good health…

…When young adults do succumb to the virus, it’s usually because the person hasn’t received a flu vaccine. That was the case with Jenna. Her parents, who aren’t immunized either, are now reconsidering…

February 10, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 6 ending February 10, 2018” From the FluView:

  • The most frequently identified influenza subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 6 was influenza A(H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remained elevated.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Twenty-Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 67.9 laboratory-conformed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 7.5% which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 43 states experienced high ILI activity; two states experienced moderate ILI activity; three states experienced low ILI activity; and two states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 48 states was reported as widespread; one state reported regional activity; the District of Columbia, Guam and one state reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported no activity.
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 43 stats experienced high activity (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming).
  • Two states experienced moderate ILI activity (North Dakota and Utah).
  • Three states experienced low ILI activity (Hawaii, Idaho, and Washington).
  • Two states experienced minimal ILI activity (Maine and Montana).

February 10, 2018: Fortune posted an article titled: “The Flu is Killing Up to 4,000 Americans a Week” It was written by Bloomberg. From the article:

…The levels of influenza-like illnesses being reported now are as high as the peak of the swine flu epidemic in 2009, and exceed the last severe seasonal flu outbreak in 2003 when a new strain started circulating, said Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s acting director. Swine flu, which swept the globe in 2009 and 2010, sickened 60.8 million Americans, hospitalized 274,304 and killed 12,469, according to CDC data. Deaths from the current outbreak will likely far outstrip those of the 2009-2010 season…

…The primary type of influenza this year hasn’t changed enough from previous seasons to be considered a novel strain, Schuchat said. The agency’s virologists are studying it to determine if there are any other explanations for why its been so hard-hitting….

…Deaths from influenza and pneumonia, which are closely tied to each other in the winter months, were responsible for 1 of every 10 deaths last week, and that’s likely to rise, Schuchat said in a conference call Friday. There were 40,414 deaths in the U.S. during the third week of 2018, the most recent data available, and 4,064 were from pneumonia or influenza, according to the CDC data. The number for that week is expected to rise more reports are sent to the agency.

It gets worse. The death toll in future weeks is expected to grow even higher because flu activity is still rising – and the number of deaths follow the flu activity. Hospitalization rates are already approaching total numbers seen at the end of the flu season, which may not be for months…

…The agency reported another 10 deaths among children this season, bringing the total to 63 so far. Half had no other medical condition that would place them in the high-risk category, and only about 20 percent were vaccinated.

The agency only started counting deaths among children in 2004, after a particularly severe season. That year, the number of doctor’s office visits for the flu peaked at 7.6 percent; last week it was 7.7 percent.

February 11, 2018: The Guardian posted an article titled: “Koch-backed group fights paid sick leave laws as flu sweeps US”. It was written by Renée Feltz. From the article:

This week marks 25 years since Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives US workers the right to unpaid time off to care for themselves and close family members…

…But with a flu epidemic raging across the US, potential new sick leave measures are facing opposition from the same Koch Brothers-back lobbying groups that led the legal assault on Obamacare.

When Maryland lawmakers moved last month to override the governor’s veto of a bill allowing 700,000 workers to earn sick leave, the state’s director of the National Federation of Independent Business – the Koch-backed group – complained it would create job-killing costs and mandate “devastating sanctions” for failure to comply.

On Thursday, the NFIB backed a failed attempt to delay the law, which went into effect on Sunday.

Now it wants Austin city council members to vote no this Thursday on an ordinance that would make the Texas liberal enclave the first city in the south to require paid sick leave from private employers.

Past tax records reveal most of the NFIB’s funding comes from Freedom Partners, whose nine-member board includes eight current or former key figures at Koch Industries or other Koch entities. More than95% of the candidates it backs are Republican.

While its representatives are often quoted in the media as proponents of small businesses, the group refuses to release its donor list  and tends to lobby for policies that benefit billionaires and corporate interests.

Under the Austin plan, employers would be able to ask for verification when sick leave extends beyond three days of work, are not required to pay out sick time when a worker quits, and can cap the number of sick days at eight per year.

But the NFIB’s call to vote no used generic talking points from other lobbying campaigns to wrongly claim the ordinance “has no provision for reasonable notice to employers regarding the employee’s absence” and “does not set a limit on accrued time.”…

…Meanwhile, during a press conference on Tuesday to announce the death of two children from the flu this season in New York City, the health commissioner touted the city’s paid sick leave law as a way to get people with the virus to stay home…

February 12, 2018: FOX 4 updated an article that was originally posted on February 8, 2018. The article was titled: “Fort Worth woman dies after contracting flu twice” From the article:

A Fort Worth mom who was seemingly healthy died after getting the flu and secondary infections twice.

The family of 58-year old Angie Barwise says they took her illnesses seriously. They took her to a doctor and hospital for treatment, got Tamiflu and antibiotics, but she just became weaker and weaker.

The mother was happy and healthy a month and a half ago, and then she was hit with both strains of the flu…

…Last week was Angie’s second bout with the flu. She was first diagnosed by her doctor with Type A influenza three days after Christmas and was told she also had strep and bronchitis.

Angie was given Tamiflu and antibiotics, and her husband [Greg Barwise] said she began to feel a little better a few days later. But then, on January 29, her doctor diagnosed her with Type B Influenza…

…After Angie took antibiotics and Tamiflu again, Greg took her back to the hospital on January 31, but she was sent home. He took her back the next day and was admitted after he says she was diagnosed with secondary infections again. This time, she had pneumonia and sepsis.

This past Saturday, Angie passed away…

…Angie’s case is not isolated.

Heather Holland was a Weatherford second grade teacher who also died of complications with the flu. The family of the 38-year-old mother of two says she died from the Type B flu strain and pneumonia.

33-year-old Dallas resident Joie Smith is having his fingers and toes amputated after coming down with the flu, pneumonia and then sepsis.

And 51-year-old Fort Worth resident Brian Herndon had to have his feet amputated after a similar diagnosis…

February 12, 2018: Eyewitness News ABC 7 posted an article titled “5-year-old Brooklyn girl died from flu, NYC Health Department confirms” It was written by Candice McCowan. From the article:

The New York City Health Department has confirmed the fourth pediatric flu death this season.

The 5-year-old girl was at her Canarsie home Saturday when EMS was called because she was having trouble breathing.

Responders found the girl unresponsive in the bathroom. She had flu like symptoms, and the health department confirmed Monday that her death was caused by the flu.

Neighbors say they ran to the girl’s home after hearing the mother crying out for help. Nelson Martis is heartbroken because he tried desperately to save the child…

…She was identified as Elisa Murray….

February 13, 2018: TIME posted an article titled: “A 3-Year-Old Indiana Girl Who Was Not Vaccinated Died From the Flu This Week” It was written by Alix Langone. From the article:

A three-year-old Indiana girl who died from the flu Monday was not vaccinated, according to local news outlets.

Alivia Viellieux, passed away in her sleep at her Muncie, Indiana home after being discharged from Ball Memorial Hospital last Thursday, WRTV reported.

Her family says they were advised not to give their daughter the flu shot, according to local media reports.

“Alivia did not have [the flu vaccine] because they had told us once the flu is going around, it’s not going to matter if you get it or not,” the toddler’s grandmother, Tameka Stettler, told WRTV. “We just decided not to put those chemicals in the girl’s body if it’s not going to help.”

Delaware county coroner Scott Hahn told the Star Press that Viellieux died from the flu and a secondary infection of pneumonia. The 3-year-old’s passing is the first pediatric death in Muncie, Ind., Hahn told the newspaper…

So far, 167 flu deaths and three school-wide outbreaks have been reported in Indiana this flu season, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s weekly influenza report.

February 13, 2018: Eyewitness News ABC 7 posted an article titled: “Kindergartner from North Bergen who died had flu, New Jersey officials say” From the article:

A 6-year-old girl from New Jersey who died Monday after getting sick is confirmed to have had the flu, health department officials said.

The death of Nevaeh Hernandez, of North Bergen, is the second pediatric death from the flu this season in the state.

Hernandez was a kindergarten student at the Lincoln Elementary School in North Bergen.

Her wake is scheduled for Friday and funeral mass for Saturday in Union City…

…[North Bergen School Superintendent Dr. George] Solter added that the North Began BOE is working with the North Bergen Health Department in providing free flu vaccines to students. A permission form was sent home with elementary parents on Monday.

“During the last three weeks, each desk in our schools have been disinfected with bleach, in addition our custodians have been spraying disinfectant on door knobs, handles, toilets, sinks and other surfaces to prevent the virus from spreading,” Solter said. “We are also urging parents not to send their kids to school if they are suffering from flu like symptoms and to get them medical assistance if they are.”

He added that they’ve been sanitizing at night and during the day…

February 13, 2018: Cosmopolitan posted an article titled “14-Year-Old Dies from Flu Complications After Going Home Sick from School” It was written by Elizabeth Narins. From the article:

A few weeks before her 15th birthday, high school freshman Gabriella Chabot, 14, came down with the flu, NBC4 reports. After taking the anti-viral medication Tamiflu, her aunt told the network, the California teen’s symptoms improved. Roughly two weeks thereafter, she went back to school, as most school-aged flu patients do.

However, by Thursday, February 8, Gabriella’s symptoms took a turn for the worse, her family members told NBC4. She left school early, was admitted to the hospital, and died later that day from complications related to the flu, teh network reported….

…That evening, hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the ninth grader in a vigil held at La Reina High and Middle School, the Catholic private school Gabriella attended in Thousand Oaks, California, according to CBS News. When reached for comment, the school didn’t confirm whether other students have been infected…

February 14, 2018: Escondido Patch posted an article titled “North County Teen Dies from Flu; Family Hopes To Live His Dream” It was written by Hoa Quách. From the article:

San Diego County teenager Hunter Conner is one of the thousands of people who has been killed by the flu this season, but instead of just mourning his death, his family wants to live his dream of helping those less fortunate.

Conner died Jan. 17 at the age of 18 after contracting the flu. Despite living a short life, loved ones said Connor had big dreams for the world….

February 14, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled: “China reports first human case of H7N4 bird flu” From the article:

China has reported the first human case of the H7N4 strain of bird flu in a woman in an eastern coastal province, though she has since recovered.

The winter is traditionally the high season for bird flu infections.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Hong Kong government’s Centre for Health Protection said it had informed the case by mainland China’s health ministry, the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

According to the Commission, this was the first case of human infection with the H7N4 strain in the world, the Hong Kong government said.

The case involved a 68-year-old woman n Jiangsu province who developed symptoms on Dec. 25, was admitted to hospital on Jan. 1 and discharge on Jan. 22.

“She had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms. All her close contacts did not have any symptoms during the medical surveillance period,” the Hong Kong government said.

It cited the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention as saying the virus’ genes “were determined to be of an avian origin”.

The H7N4 strain is far more common on China for humans…

February 14, 2018: The Dallas News posted an article titled: “A Texas teacher died after denying flu medicine she thought was too expensive. But how much does it cost?” It was written by Julieta Chiquillo. From the article:

For Heather Holland, the week began with a scratchy throat and then brought a fever. By Wednesday, the Fort Worth area-teacher had been diagnosed with influenza B and given a prescription for oseltamivir phosphate, the generic name of the antiviral Tamiflu.

At the pharmacy, Holland learned her bill after factoring insurance would be $116, according to The Wall Street Journal. She declined the drug, even though her family could afford it.

“It’s principle with her,” her husband, Frank Holland, told the newspaper. “She’s a very frugal person in general, always has been.”

Frank Holland went back to get the medicine, but three days later, on Feb. 4, his 38-year-old wife died in the hospital from flu-related complications…

…But the story of Heather Holland has put a spotlight on the price of the popular Tamiflu and its generic version. In the midst of one of the worst flu outbreaks in recent years, how much will a major pharmacy charge you for a traditional dose?

From there, the article notes that your health insurance might cover a good chunk of the cost, but recommends that you shop around. The generic form is cheaper than the brand name Tamiflu. The cost of the generic varies from pharmacy to pharmacy. The article also recommends people obtain coupons from GoodRx and then try and locate a pharmacy that accepts them. Sam’s Club offers a discount on prescriptions for people with a Sam’s Club card or a business membership.

February 14, 2018: New Hampshire Union Leader posted an article titled “Haverhill, Mass., girl, 6,dies from influenza” It was written by Chris Cassidy, Bob McGovern and Marie Szanislo. From the article:

The flu has claimed the life of a 6-year-old Haverhil elementary schoolgirl – the first child to die in Massachusetts of this year’s virulent strain – sending this tight-knit Merrimack Valley community into mourning.

The girl, identified as Delilah Lovelace, a first-grader at Golden Hill Elementary School, died Monday. The state Department of Public Health confirmed the girl died of influenza, citing clinical test results and symptoms…

…Between 250 and 1,100 Massachusetts residents die from complications of the flu each year – including two pediatric deaths last year – according to the DPH. So far this influenza season, some 8,100 lab-confirmed cases have been reported in Massachusetts, said DPH.

A 68-year-old Swampscott music teacher died from complications of the flu earlier this year…

February 14, 2018: ABC 6 The INDY Channel posted an article titled: “Private Madison County school cancels some classes after flu hits 20 percent of students”. It was written by Matt McKinney and Katie Heinz. From the article:

A private, Christian school in Madison County, Indiana has cancelled some classes for the rest of the week due to an outbreak of the flu at the school.

The sickness at Liberty Christian School affects about 20 percent of the students and 50 percent of the teachers. Pre-K through 6th grade will remain on a normal schedule, but middle and high school students will use E-learning.

According to the school’s website, there are 524 students and 80 staff members, meaning 105 students and 40 staffers are sick.

Secondary classes have been canceled Thursday and Friday…

…At Suncrest Elementary School in Frankfort, Indiana, 20-30 students are being sent home each day who are sick and came back to school too early, according to the school nurse…

…Schools are required to report student absences of more than 20 percent in a day to the local health department and the Indiana Department of Education…

February 14, 2018: The Globe and Mail posted an article titled: “Influenza taking heavy toll on children in Canada” It was written by Kelly Grant. From the article:

Influenza is taking a higher-than-usual toll on children in Canada so far this flu season, with the virus sending an above-average number to hospital and killing at least eight, including a boy and girl who attended the same Guelph, Ont. school…

…This flu season has been unusual in that the A and B strains of the virus gathered steam and spread at virtually the same time, rather than in separate waves.

Influenza A often dominates through the winter, while influenza B usually peaks in the spring.

“Kids are differently affected by influenza B”, said Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. “Influenza B can affect the whole range of age groups but results in particularly severe outcomes for kids, particularly the youngest of children.”

The two Guelph pupils died of influenza B, the local health unit confirmed on Friday.

Layna Vu Pollard, 12, and Boyqara Dahi, 7, both students at Westminster Woods Public School, died on Jan. 31 and Feb 8, respectively.

Their deaths, along with the flu-related death of a 10-year-old boy in the nearly town of Watertown on Feb. 4, sent parents in the area scrambling to vaccinate their children…

…Bobby Smylie, the 10-year-old Waterdown boy who died on Feb. 4, was a health athlete who loved soccer and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

…Mr. Smylie told the Hamilton Spectator that his son died of bacterial pneumonia, a complication of the flu. The public health unit in Hamilton would not reveal what strain he had.

The third child to die, Boyqara, had cerebral palsy, a condition that can make patients more vulnerable to complications from influenza….

…CTV reported that Boyqara did not receive a flu shot this season. Neither did Layna, her father said. It’s unknown whether the third child was vaccinated…

February 15, 2018: Chicago Tribune posted an article titled: “A mother grieves after her daughter’s flu related death: ‘She wanted to get married’.” It was written by Nancy Coltun Webster. From the article:

Paula and Lowell Stephenson are carving out a piece of clarity amid the unspeakable grief after the death of their 23-year-old daughter, Jessica, and they want to send a simple message: When fly symptoms begin, don’t go to work or school. Go to the doctor…

…On Wednesday, Jan. 31, Jessica, who also suffered from a genetic immune disease, was coughing and didn’t feel well. That afternoon, she asked her father to take her to the emergency room at St. Mary’s in Hobart, said Paula Stephenson. There she was given blood work, an EKG, a breathing treatment and a prescription for Tamiflu, family members said. Jessica was home by about 8 p.m.

The next day, “I got up early,” said Paula Stephenson. Jessica also was awake at 5:30 a.m. and had a breathing treatment before Paula went to work. But by 10:30 a.m., Corri (Jessica’s 28-year-old sister), she could see her sister having trouble breathing and by 11 a.m. they were in the Broadway Methodist emergency room. Lowell and Paula joined their daughters there…

…By 6 p.m., Jessica was dead. Her death certificate lists the cause as systole preceded by community-acquired pneumonia, septic shock, and cardiopulmonary failure. Post-influenza infection and bronchial asthma were significant conditions contributing to her death, along with a genetic immune disease, Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG), the document said.

The Stephenson’s warming comes as the Indiana Department of Health reports state influenza-associated deaths have risen to 167 including five deaths in lake County as of Feb. 9. Flu killed six people under the age of 24; eight between the ages of 25-49; 25 between the ages of 59 to 64 and 128 people aged 65 and older. Influenza A/H3N2 still accounts for more than half of the seasonal virus…

February 15, 2018: CNN posted an article titled: “Social media paints picture of racist ‘professional school shooter'” It was written by Eliot C. McLaughlin and Madison Park.

The article is about Nikolas Cruz, who (at the time the article was written) stands charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He murdered students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The most relevant part of the article, in regards to the 2017-2018 flu season, is this:

…Cruz was adopted by Lynda Cruz, said Katie Blaine, her cousin. She died November 1 after battling the flu and pneumonia, Blaine said. Cruz’s father had died of a heart attack more than a decade prior…

February 15, 2018: Philly.com posted an article titled: “Flu kills first Delaware woman without underlying illness” From the article:

Delaware health officials say the flu has killed the first person in the state who didn’t have an underlying condition.

The New Journal of Wilmington reports the 47-year-old woman who died this week did not have this year’s flu shot and was infected with influenza B. The 10 other Delawareans who have died from the flu all had underlying conditions; Six of them had received a flu shot.

Director of the Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay says the woman’s death is a solum reminder the flu can kill otherwise healthy people…

February 16, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled: “Here’s what you should know about the flu season this year” It was written by Lena H. Sun.  From the article:

Q: Are there any differences in flu symptoms this season?

No. Flu symptoms vary from person to person. In general, people who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms, according to the CDC:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone with the flu will have fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

Most people who get the flu get better in several days to less than two weeks. But some people can develop serious complications caused by viral infections of the nasal passages and throat and lungs. Young children, adults ages 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are among the groups of people who are at high risk serious flu complications, possibly requiring hospitalization and sometimes resulting in death….

…Q: Why are so many otherwise healthy children dying from flu?

Children’s vulnerability is of special concern this season. As in past winter flu seasons, about three-quarters of children who have died were not fully vaccinated, and about half were previously healthy, officials said. The number of pediatric deaths probably does not include all cases because of the typical lag time for reporting non-hospital deaths. (States are not required to report adult deaths.)

Based on current trends, the number of child deaths could exceed the 148 reported during the 2014-2015 season, when the vaccine’s poor match resulted in an overall effectiveness of 19 percent. This season’s flu vaccine is almost twice as effective overall, at 36 percent.

Experts say one reason healthy children are much more vulnerable has to do with how their immune system responds. For some who haven’t received a flu shot, infection with a flu strain they haven’t previously been exposed to can trigger their immune system to overreact. That can lead to widespread inflammation that is ultimately fatal…

February 16, 2018: USA Today posted an article titled: “Flu kills 22 more children, bringing toll to 84 kids as worst season in a decade continues” It was written by Kim Painter. From the article:

The worst flu season in a decade continues to take a grim toll, with 22 more child deaths reported Friday, bringing the total to 84…

…The newly listed child deaths are the most reported in any week this harsh flu season, but they occurred over several weeks, the report said. The overall count of 84 child deaths nearly matches the 86 reported by this time in 2015, during a severe season that ended up killing 148 children, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said…

…Friday’s report showed one inkling of hope: The rate at which people visited doctors for flu-like illness stopped rising, after reaching peaks not seen since the swine flu pandemic of 2009. Such visits made up 7.5% of trips to doctors, down slightly from 7.7% the week before…

…This year’s flu vaccines are preventing about 36% of flu cases in vaccinated people, but are working better, at a rate of about 59%, in young children, the CDC reported Thursday. The vaccines are less effective, about 25%, at preventing illnesses caused by the dominant virus behind this year’s epidemic, the report said.

But most of the children who have died this year have not been vaccinated, the report said. That also has been true for children who died in previous years, according to a study published this week.

February 16, 2018: 89.1 WBOI posted an article titled “Influenza Hit Allen County Hardest So Far” It was written by Araceli Gomez-Aldana. From the article:

The Indiana State Department of Health released their week six Influenza Activity Report Friday. Allen County has 17 confirmed influenza-associated deaths this season, the highest number of fatalities in the state.

Marion County reported 16-flu related deaths and Hamilton County reported 10. Reports show most deaths were individuals 65 years or older. That age group saw a jump of 22 deaths in the last week, bringing that total number to 150…

February 16, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled: “Hospitalized older adults less often tested for flu” It was written by Lisa Rapaport. From the article:

Even though elderly people have been the highest rates of hospitalization and death from influenza, a U.S. study suggests that older patients may be less likely to get tested for flu in the hospital.

Researchers examined data on 1,422 adults hospitalized with a respiratory illness or a high fever at four hospitals in Tennessee during the flu seasons from 2006 to 2012. The study team tested all the patients for influenza, regardless of whether the patients’ doctors had ordered the tests.

Overall, only 399 patients had influenza tests ordered by their physicians, the study found. Seventy-seven of these patients turned out to actually have the flu.

Tests ordered by the researchers were positive for flu in another 59 patients, or nearly 6 percent of the group that didn’t have flu tests ordered by their physicians.

Patients whose doctors ordered flu tests tended to be younger, around 58 years old on average, versus 66 for people who didn’t get tests.

This suggests that many of the older patients with flu would have gone undiagnosed and untreated, said senior study author Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, a health policy researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville Tennessee…

February 16, 2018: CBS19 News posted an article titled: “Charlottesville-area resident has died of complications from influenza” It was written by Tyler Hawn. From the article:

The first official flu-related death in the Charlottesville area has been confirmed at the University of Virginia Health System.

A spokesman said the patient was an adult, but due to patient privacy, no other details were immediately available…

February 16, 2018: South China Morning Post posted an article titled: “Hong Kong schools to resume classes on schedule as flu crisis shows signs of easing”. It was written by Peace Chiu. From the article:

Classes will resume at Hong Kong schools according to original schedules for kindergarten and primary school pupils, the food and health minister said on Friday, as local pediatricians credited early closures for helping to mitigate a flu outbreak that killed scores of people.

Sophia Chan Siu-chee’s comments came more than a week after the government decided to shut the city’s 1,600 kindergartens, primary and special-needs schools from February 8, bringing forward their Lunar New Year holiday to stem the spread of the flu outbreak.

The festive break typically lasts about two weeks, but with exact days off varying among schools. Most schools were expected to resume classes on Monday, February 26.

The sudden announcement to close schools early left many parents upset about having to scramble to make alternative childcare arrangements.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Chan said the current plan was for classes to resume according to schools’ original schedules.

“I went to a hospital on Thursday to understand the situation and there were pediatricians telling me that after the implementation of the early school holiday measure, they immediately felt the number of admissions had been reduced,” she said.

For this reason, the measure had been effective, Chan said..,

February 17, 2018: Florida Today posted an article titled: “Influential Astronaut, Titusville high school journalism teacher dies of flu complications” It was written by Jessica Saggio.  From the article:

Known for his quick wit and love of Bob Dylan, influential high school journalism teacher Grady “Jack” McCoy died Thursday after complications from the flu. He was 74.

McCoy was one of the area’s most influential and long-standing teachers, and a favorite among students, colleagues said. His 40-year teaching career began in Tennessee, but most of his tenure was spent at Astronaut High School. He also spent a short time at Titusville High School.

McCoy taught journalism, photography and English, and oversaw Astronaut High’s newspaper, The Talon until his retirement in 2007. The award-winning student newspaper is still in publication online…

…McCoy also worked as a press photographer for NASA during the 1980s and a wedding photographer….

…Patty, his wife of 39 years, is also an educator and still teaches at Oak Park Elementary.

He has three children: Kevin McCoy, Jenny de Oliveria and Amy Rose McGuire; and four grandchildren: Abigail, John Grady, Bodhi and Tate…

…McCoy’s death comes in the wake of a very active flu season. Since the beginning of 2018, 1,247 people have died in the state of Florida due to flu or flu-related illnesses, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the risk of flu remains elevated in the United States. Those over the age of 65, pregnant women and children under 2 are the most at-risk for complications.

February 17, 2018: FOX 61 posted an article titled: “More local residents attend flu clinics as flu-related in Connecticut deaths continues rise” It was written by  Esther Katro. From the article:

The flu epidemic continues to affect many in the state. This week new flu numbers were released and this weekend – more flu shot clinics were held. There’s been more than a dozen new deaths in Connecticut. In last week’s report, 63 deaths were noted. This week the number increased to 77. That’s an additional 14 deaths…

…The CDC estimates the flu vaccine is just 36-percent effective against both a and b virus strains. Experts still say the best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get a flu shot…

…[Karen] Pagliano added we haven’t reached peak flu season yet, and that the season could run into May. She added once you get your flu shot it should be good for about six to seven months. Across the state more than 49-hundred people have tested positive for flu since August.

The surgeon general said three-quarters of the 63 children who have died of flu complications this season had not been vaccinated. Senator Richard Blumenthal stopped by this clinic today to drive home those numbers….

February 17, 2018: FOX 21 Denver posted an article titled: “10-year-old released from hospital after fighting the flu”. It was written by Zora Stphenson. From the article:

…On February 1, Richardson was diagnosed with both the flu and pneumonia. Hours later, her lungs collapsed and doctors put the 10-year-old on life support…

…Even with the flu shot, the virus had the 10-year-old fighting for her life.

…Eighteen days after being hospitalized, Keyona Richardson is home. She doesn’t exactly remember most of her time in the hospital, but what she does know is how happy she is to be home.

The family still has to check her oxygen levels every couple of hours to make sure she’s breathing okay. Other than that, she’s not on any machines or medicine…

February 17, 2018: The Setonian posted an article titled: “SHU students hit hard with the flu”. It was written by Isabel Soisson. The Setonian is the official undergraduate newspaper of Seton Hall University.

The flu has hit Seton Hall University hard with several students contracting the illness.

Erin Hoffman, a junior business major who received a flu shot, shared that many of her sisters in the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority have contracted the flu,

“After last weekend, which was sorority recruitment, many girls had gotten the flu and it all spread,” she said.  Sheba Yu, a senior mathematics major who did not receive the flu shot, shared why she thinks she caught the flu.

“Most of the hand sanitizing stations don’t work (on campus) and you can’t open any windows to let the air circulate so germs are just circulating in the air,” she said…

…John Signorello, associate Vice President of Facilities Engineering and Business Affairs, shared via email the steps that SHU is taking to help ill students.

“Although there have not been any special requests for extra cleaning by the University, GDS is offering delivery of meals and fluids to the students in residence halls who have been seen by Health Services and are confirmed suffering from the flu and can’t get to the University Center for meals,” he wrote.

In addition, Signorello shared that any GDS employee that is sick will be sent home, all tables and napkin holders in the cafeteria will be cleaned after each meal and signs will be posted to make sure students filling “to go” beverage containers do not make eye contact with the beverage nozzles.

February 17, 2018: Lancaster Online posted an article titled: “The flu is everywhere: Should I be worried about canine influenza, too?” It was written by Tom Knapp. From the article:

A highly contagious strain of dog flu – unrelated to the strain affecting humans, and is not transmissible between species – is sweeping the United States, although local veterinarians say they don’t know of any local cases.

The American Veterinary Medical Association says two strains of canine influenza virus – H3N8 and H3N2 – have been identified in the U.S.

Fox News reported in January that cases of dog flu have been reported in 46 states, including Pennsylvania. And an article last month in Newsweek says the ailment is endemic in several states, including Pennsylvania.

Gillian Kocher, director of public relations and marketing for Pennsylvania SPCA, said in an email Wednesday that dog flu this year has turned up in Texas, Florida, and Ohio…

…Pet owners would be wise “to talk with their vet about the risk factors that are out there for their individual pet and whether getting vaccinated is prudent for them,” [Dr. Bryan] Langois [medical director of Pet Pantry of Lancaster County] said….

…”It is of course always important to remind people that they cannot catch the fly from their dog, and they cannot give the human flu that has been so bad this year to dogs,” he added. “It is strictly a canine issue, but if you are around infected dogs you can potentially bring that virus home to your own dogs on your clothes.”…

February 17, 2018: The Guardian posted an article titled: “Free stronger flu vaccine for older Australians after 2017’s deadly outbreak”. From the article:

Older Australians will be given free, stronger flu vaccinations by the federal government in an effort to prevent another deadly outbreak.

More than 1,100 people across Australia died from the flu last year, with most of them over the age of 65…

…The stronger vaccine will be delivered in a $31m program. FluAd and FluZone will be free for over 65s when the supply arrives in Australia in April…

…Last year’s flu was deadly because the elderly immune response to the vaccine had been waning in recent years and the A-strain of the flu mutated mid-season, leaving even vaccinated people vulnerable, the chief medical officer for the Australian government, Brendan Murphy, said…

February 17, 2018: Indianapolis Patch posted an article titled: “Indiana Has Nearly 200 Flu-Related Deaths This Season”. It was written by Rebecca Bream. From the article:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) report 28 more flu-related deaths in Indiana during the week of February 10. That brings us to nearly 200 deaths this flu season, up to 195 since the last report. Indiana’s flu activity is at the highest, widespread level.

Therefore because of yet another recent spike in flu-related deaths across the state, ISHD is urging Hoosiers to take precautions against influenza. According to ISDH, there have now been 95 long-term care facility outbreaks this season (up from 92 since the last report) – putting these patients at risk. ISDH adds that pregnant women young children, people with chronic illnesses, and individuals whose immune systems are compromised are also at risk.

There’s also been four school-wide outbreaks across Indiana, including one in Anderson this week…

February 17, 2018: MedPage Today posted an article titled: “Are ‘Vaccine Skeptics’ Responsible for Flu Deaths?” It was written by Molly Walker. From the article:

For months, speculation swirled around this year’s flu season, and the apparent lack of efficacy of the vaccine in Australia earlier in the year, but did all that skepticism contribute to flu deaths in the U.S.?

The CDC’s most recent flu data indicates that an additional 22 children died from influenza-related causes, and the portion of pneumonia and influenza-associated mortality hovers near 10%, far above the epidemic threshold for this particular week. Recently released flu vaccine efficacy data indicated that only a little over a quarter of pediatric deaths were in vaccinated children.

In commenting on this data, Peter Hoetz, MD, PhD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told MedPage Today that in general, the public health community was not sufficiently visible in the media about the importance of getting vaccinated, and thus allowed anti-vaccine activists to take over the messaging…

…Peter Palese, PhD, chair of the Department of Microbiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, was unequivocal in his response, “I fully agree with the statement that the antivaxxers are responsible for the needless deaths of may [unvaccinated] people,” he said…

…But not all experts were in agreement. Robert Field, PhD, MPH, JD, professor of health management and policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia said that the public health community “is only as strong as the tools it has available”…

February 18 2018: WKBN27 posted an article titled: “State says more than 10,000 Ohioans hospitalized for flu” From the article:

The Ohio Department of Health says nearly 11,000 people throughout the state have been hospitalized for influenza this flu season.

Ohio health department records show Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland has had nearly double the number of flu hospitalizations through Feb. 10 as Franklin County, Ohio’s most populous county that includes Columbus….

February 18, 2018: TIME posted an article titled “The 2018 Flu Season Might Finally be Leveling Off” It was written by Mike Strobbe, Carla K. Johnson. From the article:

…Health officials on Friday said about 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That’s no reason for health officials to celebrate yet: That level is among the highest in a decade. But it’s no worse than last week, and flu activity has been increasing each week since November.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said that the number of states reporting heavy flu patient traffic also held steady at 43…

…Preliminary data released last week indicated patient traffic in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms this flu season was as bad as the height of the swine flu pandemic in 2009. However, the CDC readjusted its numbers down slightly in Friday’s report, meaning this season did not quite match the intensity of flu activity seen in October 2009.

Still, it counts as one of the most intense flu seasons in more than a decade. Whether its peaking or not, flu season is still expected to last several more weeks….

…The new report shows that for the week ending Jan. 27, just under 10 percent of U.S. death certificates listed flu or pneumonia. That’s down slightly from the week before, but indicates that flu remains at epidemic levels. There are as many as 56,000 deaths connected to the flu during a bad year.

Eighty-four children have died so far. Childhood deaths have reached about 170 in a season….

February 18, 2018: Las Vegas Sun posted an article titled: “Flu season continues to rack up deaths in Clark County”. It was written by Ricardo Torres-Cortez. From the article:

With 22 casualties so far, influenza season in Clark County has proven increasingly deadly, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

That’s an increase of about 200 percent from the same time period during last year’s flu season – October 2016 to the first week of February 2017 – when seven people died due to the illness, according to the health district.

Total cases and hospitalizations also have just about tripled this season. Almost 1,000 cases have been diagnosed with 735 patients being sent to the hospital, according to the health district. There may also be unreported cases.

One of those cases was Jenna Libidinsky, a 24-year-old Las Vegan who was killed by the flu, which she had about two weeks beginning shortly after the new year.

What started off as the flu turned into bronchitis and then walking pneumonia. Her friend Gabrielle Hile says Libidinsky was healthy but had not gotten a flu shot…

February 18, 2018: The Los Angeles Times posted an article titled: “Employers who don’t offer paid sick leave are making flu season worse, hurting their bottom line”. It was written by Christopher Ingraham. From the article:

…According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 28% of civilian workers – roughly 45 million individuals – have no access to paid sick leave.

When these workers get ill, they have a choice to make: go to work sick, or stay home and forgo pay. Lack of paid sick time is concentrated among the lowest-income employees, which explains why millions of workers opt for the former.

Multiple studies have shown that workers without access to paid sick days are more likely to go to work sick than those with it.

That’s a problem not just for those workers, who are literally sacrificing their health for a day’s wage, but also for their fellow workers and commuters exposed to their illness.

In recent years, a number of studies have attempted to quantify the extent to which sick employees are making influenza outbreaks worse. In 2010, a policy brief published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research used data from the CDC and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate that during the virulent 2009 flu season, 8 million American workers went to work while infected with the influenza virus, causing an additional 7 million people to get sick.

Rates of “presenteeism” – showing up to work sick – were much lower in the public sector, where paid sick leave is more common than in the private sector….

…Another paper, published in 2016, paired Google’s data on influenza trends with information on sick leave mandates (paid and unpaid) implemented in a number of cities and states in the 2000s. It found that the introduction of sick leave mandates reduced the incidence of influenza-like illness by about 6% across the total population.

The implication is that leave policies are good not just for individual workers but also for everyone they may come in contact with…

…A study published last year by researchers at the CDC found that “providing paid sick leave to workers who lack it might help decrease the number of workdays lost due to flu and similar illnesses by nearly 4 [million] to 11 million per year,” resulting in an overall cost savings of $1 billion to $2 billion..

February 18, 2018: Record Searchlight posted an article titled: “First case of canine influenza in Redding treated at veterinary hospital” It was written by Damon Arthur.

A Redding veterinary clinic reports it is treating its first-ever case of canine influenza and is warning dog owners to take steps to prevent their pets from catching the virus.

“It’s definitely new to the area. We’ve never had canine flu here in Redding to my knowledge,” said Evelyn Townsell, a veterinarian at Dana Park Veterinary Hospital in Redding.

There was a recent outbreak of the canine flu in the Bay Area, but it has apparently spread to the Redding area, she said. A black lab was brought into the hospital last week showing symptoms of the ailment, Townsell said Sunday.

The dog was kept in a separate pen to prevent spread of the disease, and staff at the hospital wore gloves and gowns when handling the animal.

The flu is highly contagious, with more than 200 cases reported in the Bay Are alone, she said. There have been no other confirmed cases of canine flu in Redding that she knew of, Townsell said…

…The flu can be spread by animals coming in direct contact with each other, sharing a water or food dish. It can also be left behind on different objects that dogs come in contact with, such as human hands or a play toy, she said.

Objects can remain contagious for up to 48 hours, she said.

The canine flu cannot be passed to humans, but there have been some rare reports of cats getting sick from it..,

February 18, 2018: The Spokesman-Review posted an article titled: “Canine influenza spreads to East Idaho” From the article:

An Idaho animal hospital says it has been notified of a confirmed case of canine influenza in the eastern part of the state.

The Idaho State Journal reporter Alpine Animal Hospital in Chubbuck reported Friday that it has been informed of the dog flu in Rigby.

A veterinarian in Twin Falls confirmed just a few days earlier that a dog in Boise had been diagnosed with the disease….

February 19, 2018: Delaware Online posted an article titled: “Flu death toll rises as flu season continues to hit Delaware”. It was written by Meredith Newman. From the article:

Delaware’s flu death toll has increased to 18 people as the state continues to face one of the worst flu seasons in recent years, state health officials said Monday.

Six New Castle County residents died from the flu last week, health officials said. Their ages ranged from 44 to 89 years old, and all but one person had underlying health conditions. None of them got their flu shot this year.

The deaths of two Kent County residents who died from the flu earlier this winter were recently reported to the state. A 66-year-old man died in January and a 71-year-old woman died earlier this month. Both had health conditions and neither one had been vaccinated…

…From Feb. 4 to 10, the state confirmed 1,268 cases of the flu to bring the total number of confirmed cases to 4,235. The total number of confirmed flu cases last year was 4,590 – the highest number of cases since the state began recording it in 2004…

…This year’s flu season is hitting Delaware hospitals hard. They are carefully doling out antiviral drug Tamiflu and judiciously using IV bags to rehydrate patients because of shortages. They are also asking people not to visit patients at the hospital….

February 19, 2018: NJ.com (a New Jersey news site) posted an article titled: “Student dies after influenza diagnosis, school says”. It was written by Sara Jerde. From the article:

An Elizabeth Public Schools student died after being diagnosed with influenza, though district officials said Sunday they were unsure if the virus was the primary cause of the death.

The child’s death comes amid a surge in flu cases this year, including a 4-year-old in Central Jersey who died in December and a 6-year-old from Hudson County who died last week.

In Union County, there have been slightly more than 700 new cases of the flu so far this year, according to the Department of Health data.

Elisabeth schools spokesman Pat Politano said the district has not seek a spike in absences or anything else to indicate the flu has a strong presence in the district. There were 35 possible cases of flu through the end of January last year. This year, for the same period, there were 16, he said.

The state Department of Health is investigating the death, according to officials…

…”While it has been confirmed that the student has been diagnosed with influenza, it presently remains unclear whether or not the virus was the primary contributing factor to the child’s passing,” Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer said in a letter to parents and guardians…

February 19, 2018: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota posted an article titled: “Senate bill would jump-start universal flu vaccine efforts”. It was written by Lisa Schnirring. From the article:

…The bill, called the Flu Vaccine Act, was introduced on Feb 15 by Ed Markey (D-Mass), with seven senate cosponsors: Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bill Nelson, (D-Fla.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

From a total investment of $1 billion, the proposed law would direct $200 million each year over fiscal years 2019 through 2023 to universal flu vaccine research at the National Institute of Health (NIH), according to a press release from Markey’s office. For comparison, he said the NIH’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) spent about $64 million in fiscal year 2017 on universal flu vaccine research…

…Dedicated funding outlined in the bill would ensure that scientists are able to conduct the basic science they need to improve current vaccines and ultimately develop a universal version, Markey said….

…Paul Auwaeter, MD, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) said in Markey’s statement that the devastation of severe flu this season underscores the urgent need for a universal vaccine that would protect against the virus, regardless of the circulating strains.

On the same day the senators proposed the law, they sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar asking for more details on HHS work to more accurately pick vaccine virus strains, speed up vaccine productions, prepare hospitals and providers for a severe flu season, and progress with developing a universal flu vaccine…

Senator Ed Markey’s press release about the Flu Vaccine Act is on his official Senate page.

The text of the Flu Vaccine Act is posted as a PDF on Senator Ed Markey’s official Senate page. The bill is described as “To conduct or support further comprehensive research for the creation of a universal influenza vaccine”.

The letter the Senators sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is also posted online on Senator Ed Markey’s official Senate page.

February 19, 2018: The Fredrick News-Post posted an article titled: “Maryland reflects on lessons learned from swine influenza outbreak at county fairs.” It was written by Samantha Hogan. From the article:

In the green and white barn at the rear of the Fredrick Fairgrounds, close to 300 breeding and market pigs were housed together for a week. It was unseasonably warm for September, with temperatures 10 degrees above normal, but as the sun went down on the final Saturday of The Great Fredrick Fair, a different temperature caught the Fair Board’s attention.

A pig with a 106-degree fever was found in the swine barn, which is about four degrees above normal for a healthy pig.

Just six days earlier, influenza A virus had been detected in pigs at the Charles County Fair, and the state Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder signed an emergency order preemptively shutting down swine exhibits at St. Mary’s and Calvert County Fairs. Now, a pig showing clinical signs of the virus was in Frederick, and by the end of the day, one animal was dead.

Nearly five months later, state officials and the Fair Board are still learning what happened and how it can be prevented in the future…

…The fair board collaborated with the Maryland Department of Agriculture on a schedule that would limit pigs’ stays to 72 hours. But even with this new preventative timeline, it is not expected to be the last time swine influenza appears at the Frederick fair…

…[Andrew] Bowman [who runs the Animal Influenza Ecology and Epidemiology Research Program at Ohio State University] has researched swine flu since 2007. He found that 1.5 percent of swine entering agriculture fairs in the Midwest are infected with influenza, and after 72 hours, between 60 and 90 percent of pigs at the fair will test positive.

Commingling of the animals allows the few sick pigs to spread the virus until it amplifies to all the swine at the show, he said. Within 24 hours, new infections can be detected, and within a couple of days there is a “cloud of virus” – which is when the risk of human infection goes up.

In total, 40 people were sickened at Maryland agricultural fairs in 2017 by a variant strain of influenza known as H3N2v, and 60 percent of the cases affected children under the age of 5….

…During next summer’s fair season, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and CDC will work together to get better signage for fairgrounds across the state. On top of hand-washing and “no food” signs outside the barns, new notices will discourage families from taking sippy-cups, pacifiers and strollers into the barns…

February 19, 2018: Fremont Patch posted an article titled: “California Flu Deaths Continue To Rise” It was written by Hoa Quách. From the article:

The severe flu season is continuing to kill people in California with another 22 deaths recorded in the state during the week of Feb. 4. State health officials said the new death toll for those under the age of 65 stands at 185 people.

The state does not record deaths of those 65 and older.

The number of flu deaths and hospitalizations are above expected levels, but health officials said influenza activity is decreasing. Influenza B viruses are more common than Influenza A in California, officials said in a weekly surveillance report…

February 19, 2018: Carmel Patch posted an article titled: “Indiana Has 195 Flu-Related Deaths This Season”. It was written by Rebecca Bream. From the article:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) report 28 more flu-related deaths in Indiana during the week of Feb. 10. That brings us to nearly 200 deaths this flu season, up to 195 since the last report. Indiana’s flu activity is at the highest, widespread level.

Therefore, because of meat another recent spike in flu-related deaths across the state, ISDH is urging Hoosiers to take precautions against influenza. According to ISDH, there have now been 95 long-term care facility outbreaks this season (up from 92 since the last report) – putting these patients at risk. ISDH adds that pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and individuals whose immune systems are compromised are also at risk.

There’s also been four school-wide outbreaks across Indiana, including one in Anderson this week…

February 19, 2018: Newtown Patch posted an article titled: “More Than 100 Flu Deaths Reported in Pennsylvania” It was written by Kara Seymour. From the article:

More than 100 Pennsylvanians have died from the flu in what continues to be a particularly bad flu season across the state and across the nation. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 107 people have now died due to the flu.

The state’s flu-related deaths now include two children and five young adults. Fifteen people aged 50 to 64 have died, as well as 85 people aged 65 and older. The latest data released by the state Department of Health includes cases reported up to Feb. 10.

Since October, more than 61,000 people in Pennsylvania have fallen ill from the virus. The particularly bad season is attributed to infections from a flu strain known as H3N2. It doesn’t respond well to vaccinations and is particularly dangerous to young children and older adults over the age of 65…

February 20, 2018: FOX 5 posted an article titled: “Elementary school student dies after catching flu” From the article:

Another young child in New Jersey had died after contracting the flu. If confirmed, it would be the third pediatric flu death in the state this flu season.

Daniela Genaro attended the Nicholas LaCorte-Peterstown School, No. 3 in Elizabeth. The school district confirmed a student had died but said it was up to state health officials to determine the exact cause…

…As a precaution, the school was sanitized over the long holiday weekend, according to a news release by the school administration…

February 20, 2018: Drovers posted an article titled: “Influenza D Antibodies Confirmed in Horses on Midwestern Farms” From the article:

South Dakota State University researchers found antibodies against two strains of influenza D in blood samples from horses in the Midwest, proving that horses can be infected with the virus…

…In cattle, influenza D typically appears as part of a respiratory disease complex. The next step in horses will be to isolate the virus and characterize it to determine whether it is different than other strains…

…[Professor Feng] Li [of the Department Biology and Microbiology at South Dakota State University] and his research team tested 364 blood samples collected in 2015 from horses at 141 farms in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming for antibodies to both influenza D strains and the closely related human influenza C. The farms also have cattle and are in a region where influenza D exposure has been detected. Blood samples were obtained through the South Dakota Animal Disease and Diagnostic Research Laboratory.

Results showed that 12 percent of the blood samples had antibodies against influenza D isolated from pigs and 11 percent had antibodies against the strain isolated from cattle. Furthermore, 11 percent of the samples had tested positive for human influenza C antibodies…

…The study shows that when cattle and horses commingle, the possibility for virus transmission between species exists. “The virus can spill over from cattle to horses”, [Li] said…

February 20, 2018: The American Academy of Pediatrics posted information titled: “Study: Maternal vaccination during pregnancy safe for infants”. From the information:

New research supports recommendations that pregnant women receive influenza and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccines.

The study found the vaccines are not associated with increased risk of infant hospitalization or death.

Both influenza and pertussis can cause serious illnesses in infants, but mothers can pass their antibodies to their babies to protect them before they can receive their own vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pregnant women receive influenza vaccine any time during pregnancy. They also should receive Tdap vaccine, ideally between weeks 27-36…

…Authors [of the study] found infants did not have an increased risk of hospitalization or death when their mother had been vaccinated. Adjusted odds ratios for hospitalization and maternal influenza and Tdap vaccinations were 1 and 0.94%, respectively. Likewise, adjusted odds ratios for infant mortality and maternal influenza or Tdap vaccination were 0.96 and 0.44. The study also showed infants hospitalized for respiratory problems had lower rates of maternal vaccination for Tdap compared to controls….

February 20, 2018: Deming Headlight posted an article titled: “NM Health Dept. reports flu reaches peak”. From the article:

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports that although flu activity remains widespread across the state, it appears activity overall in New Mexico has peaked and will likely continue to gradually decrease for the remainder of the season which is expected to be several more weeks.

As of February 16, 2018, NMDOH reports 28 season-to-date flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), thirty-four flu-related deaths, all in adults, and 100 pneumonia-related deaths.

It is common during any flu season to have a peak of influenza A cases – typically the more severe flu – and then a later, smaller peak of influenza B cases, which is generally milder. This year the influenza A and influenza B activity peaks were relatively close together leading to the surge in activity that we have seen over the last couple of weeks…

…Flu activity is monitored with a variety of surveillance systems in New Mexico, including a network of 45 outpatient providers throughout the state that report influenza-like illnesss (fever with cough or sore throat) from October through May. Providers participating in this surveillance network reported that for the week ending February 10, 2018, 8.5% of their patient visits were for influenza-like illnesses. Since January, flu-related hospitalizations have climbed more than threefold, with those older than 65 years and young children 0-4 years of age having the highest risk…

February 20, 2018: Ledger-Enquirer posted an article titled: “Nearly 80 now dead from flu in Georgia – but is the season finally slowing down?” It was written by Scott Berson. From the article:

Months of widespread flu have sent thousands of people to the hospital and killed at least 79 people in Georgia along so far, including at least three children, according to the latest numbers from the state health department.

But there are signs the season, the most intense since the swine flu epidemic of 2009, may slowly be on its way to leveling off.

One of the best ways to measure how widespread the flu is is to look at the number of people who are seeing a doctor for flu or flu-like symptoms.

Usually, that’s about 2 percent of visits. Across the U.S., it’s 7.5 percent, which is the same as what it was last week.

In Georgia, it was 15.2 percent – a small decrease from the previous week, the first time tis season there has actually been a decrease in those numbers.

That doesn’t mean the season is over – not by a long shot. But for the last many weeks, deaths and infection rates have only climbed higher and higher. The fact that they did not do so this week is good news, but not the end of the fight, officials say…

February 20, 2018: Lohud (part of the USA Today Network) posted an article titled: “Rockland’s flu numbers: Better, worse or same?” It was written by Kimberly Redmond. From the article:

…New York has been hit hard by the flu, with more than 69,365 reported cases and 14.354 hospitalizations related to the virus, according to the state Health Department.

Statewide, the number of people getting the flu increased again this past week, with 16,804 new reports for the week ending Feb. 10 – the most up-to-date statistics available from the state.

Locally, the number of cases has continued to trend upward this week.

The Flu in Rockland County:

  • Week ending Feb. 10: 176 cases
  • Week ending Feb. 3: 144 cases
  • Week ending Jan. 27: 121 cases
  • Season to date: 689 cases

…This season, the outbreak is being driven by H3N2, a strain of influenza A that has proven to be more resistant to vaccinations and has posed a significant risk to the elderly, children, and people with chronic illnesses…

…Key numbers to know:

  • The total number of flu-related pediatric deaths this year is 84 nationwide.
  • In New York, there have been five pediatric deaths and 11,036 children under the age of 5 have been diagnosed with the flu. Of that number, 926 have been hospitalized.
  • New Yorkers age 65 and older on Medicare may be skipping flu shots. As of the beginning of February, fewer than half – 47.50 percent – of Medicare enrollees had been vaccinated. In Rockland, the numbers were a little better: 52 percent of the 36,545 on the program had received a vaccine.

February 20, 2018: The News & Observer posted an Op-Ed titled: “Funding cuts and flu virus a deadly combination” It was written by Kevin J. Rogers, the director of Policy and Public Affairs for Action NC and a lecturer of Government and Political Science at William Peace University in Raleigh. From the Op-Ed:

Flu is causing almost 1 in 10 American deaths right now, and experts are predicting that it may well get worse before it gets better. Along with the pneumonia it spawns, this year’s epidemic may be killing 4,000 people every week. A government report out last week shows 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That nearly ties the highest level seen in the U.S. during swine flu in 2009, and it surpasses every winter flu season since 2003, when the government changed the way it measures flu.

Given those grim statistics, it seems like a great time to slash public funding, right? I know it seems crazy, but that is exactly what Congress voted to do last week when they passed the bill which included a $1.35 billion cut from the Prevention and Public Health Fund over the next 10 years.

When you add that to the $750 million cut from the PPHF in December by the GOP tax bill, the total cuts will be devastating PPFH is responsible for more than 10 percent of the CDC budget, and most of that money is passed-through directly to the states for their local prevention and outbreak control efforts. For example, NC receives more than $17 million a year from the fund, specifically to counter public health crises such as this current influenza epidemic.

With the monetary shift, it is not clear which programs will be affected, or how much money North Carolina will get next year, but the shortfall will doubtlessly create holes in public health programs. The CDC will also suffer a blow in the coming year as funds from a five-year $582-million supplemental package to combat the 2014 Ebola outbreak will run out, and there are no indications as of yet that it will be renewed…

The Op-Ed provides a brief, yet detailed, history of what the PPHF is, what it does, and what Congress has done to cut the funding over the years.

February 22, 2018: Hartfort Courant posted an article titled: “Flu Deaths Near 100 As State’s Deadliest Season In Five Years Continues”. It was written by Nicholas Rondinone. From the article:

State officials sent a dire warning Thursday to get the flu shot as another 20 people have died from the virus in the state’s deadliest season in years.

“With 97 deaths so far this season, I cannot stress enough that if you have not received a flu shot yet, for your own health and to protect the health of those around you, please get a flu shot. It is still not too late,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said in a statement.

Among those who have died are two children, the latest a 6-year-old from Norwalk last weekend, according to officials.

The majority of those who have died are over the age of 65, a population typically at risk during the flu season…

…Deaths are already up more than 30 from the 65 reported through the eight-month flu season last year, according to DPH data.

This latest surveillance released by the state includes statistics up to Feb 17. Since the season started in August, 1,951 people have tested positive for the flu of the more than 6,000 tested…

February 22, 2018: WebMD posted an article titled: “FluMist May Be Coming Back. Will it Work Better?” It was written by Brenda Goodman, MA. From the article:

FluMist, the inhaled flu vaccine, may be on its way back to doctors’ offices in the U.S.

The influential Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 12-2 on Wednesday to put the nasal spray back on its list of available vaccines.

The vote comes during a lengthy and punishing flu season in the U.S., where the effectiveness of available flu vaccines was low for most age groups. Only young children have seen substantial protection against the most common strain of the flu this year.

It was a guarded “yes,” given that doctors won’t know for sure if it works better than before – or better than the other vaccine options – until it is widely used again during an actual flu season.

The committee first voted to remove the word “recommended” from its statement, which is formally known as a recommendation. Instead, members voted simply to say FluMist was an option…

February 22, 2018: The Frederick News-Post posted an article titled: “Winter waterfowl increase avian influenza risk for backyard flocks” It was written by Samantha Hogan. From the article:

Cold weather in the northern portion of the eastern seaboard pushed a record number of migratory waterfowl into Maryland this winter.

An annual survey of birds in the tidal tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay allows the bird to gauge the number of waterfowl in Maryland and make management decisions about certain species. This year, the survey team counted over 1 million waterfowl around the bay, which is above the state’s five-year average….

…Dabbing ducks, such as mallards or pintails, which feed at the surface of the water, are asymptomatic carries of avian influenza, said State Veterinarian Michael Radebaugh. These pond-loving birds pose a threat to backyard and commercial poultry flocks if their feces or spit come in contact with chickens or turkeys.

Radebaugh suggested for this reason that all poultry owners have a dedicated pair of footwear to wear into bird enclosures, as well as foot baths and coveralls…

February 22, 2018: The Hour posted an article titled “Services to remember 6-year-old girl who died from flu” It was written by Jim Shay. The Hour is a paper that covers Norwalk, Connecticut. From the article:

Funeral services have been set for Emma Mackenzie Splan, the six-year-old girl who died from complications from the flu on Sunday.

Emma was diagnosed with the flu last Thursday and died unexpectedly early Sunday from complications, even though she received a flu shot long before then.

Emma was brought to Stamford Hospital on Saturday because she started vomiting and was later transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital later that night.

She was a Columbus Magnet School first-grader…

February 23, 2018: RTV6 ABC The INDY Channel posted an article titled: “7-year-old from Terre Haute dies from flu complications at Riley Hospital for Children” From the article:

A 7-year-old boy died at Riley Hospital for Children on Thursday morning from complications from the flu.

Jackson Pirtle of Terra Haute had the flu which then developed into pneumonia and a bacterial infection, according to WTWO-TV.

Jackson’s death is not included in the most recent flu numbers from the Indiana State Department of Health.

There were 24 deaths from the flu last week, the fewest since the second week of flu season.

In total, 2019 Hoosiers have died from the flu according to the ISDH….

February 23, 2018: WABI 5 posted an article titled: “After Bangor Woman Dies From Flu, Family Brings Awareness To Others” It was written by Morgan Sturdivant. From the article:

A local family is in shock after losing a member this week from complications from the flu…

…Michael Southard says he still can’t believe how quickly he lost his cousin, Dee McQuarrie.

“I heard from her on Tuesday and at 9:15 she texted me to see if I was at work and I said ‘no, why?’ And she said, ‘I think I need to go to the hospital. I’m very dehydrated and I can’t catch my breath I have the flu,” he says.

Michael took his cousin to the emergency room at Bangor hospital.

“I went to critical care, walked in and there were 10, 15 people working on her and I said ‘what’s going on? what’s going on?’ Clearly, there was a problem and the doctor said ‘she’s as sick as any human being can be. She may not make it,” he says.

Dee’s sister, Michelle McQuarrie Cross, says she called the hospital when she found out.

“Her body was shutting down, she was on a respirator, the only thing keeping her alive and about an hour after I got there she had passed,” she says.

They say because she was a healthy person she thought she could fight it on her own…

February 24, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 7 ending February 17, 2018” From the FluView:

  • The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 7 was influenza A (H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remained elevated.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Thirteen influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 74.5 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like (ILI) was 6.4%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 39 states experienced high ILI activity; five states experienced moderate ILI activity; three states experienced low ILI activity; and three states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto-Rico and 48 states was reported as widespread; the District of Columbia, Guam and two states reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported no activity.
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 39 other states experienced high activity (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming).
  • Five states experienced moderate ILI activity (Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Utah and Wisconsin).
  • Three states experienced low ILI activity (Florida, Idaho and Washington).
  • Three states experienced minimal ILI activity (Maine, Montana, and North Dakota)

February 24, 2018: Forbes posted an article titled: “Japan’s New Drug: One Pill May Stop The Flu in Just One Day” It was written by Bruce Y. Lee.  From the article:

…On Friday, Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi announced that the flu medication that they have developed, Xofluza otherwise known as baloxavir marboxil… has been approved to be manufactured and sold in Japan. Beginning in October 2015, the medication underwent priority review by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. Shionogi filed for approval in the Autumn of 2017. Compared to Tamiflu, which requires two doses each day for five days, apparently only a single dose of Xofluza will be needed to treat the flu. Even though Xoflu has revived approval, people will have to wait until the Japanese national insurance sets a price for the medication, which according to Preetika Rana writing for the Wall Street Journal, may not occur until May…

The article includes a detailed explanation about how Xofluza works, the ways that it is different from Tamiflu, and why it is important to stop the flu virus as quickly as possible.

February 24, 2018: Billboard posted an article titled: “Barbara Alston, Singer in ’60s Girl Group the Crystals, Dies After Battling the Flu” It was written by Ashley Iasimone. From the article:

Girl group singer Barbara Ann Alston of the Crystals died in Charlotte after a two-week battle with the flu, her family says. She was 74.

Alston passed away in the hospital on Feb. 16, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The Crystals were known for ’60s songs including: “There’s No Other (Like My Baby),” “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me”….

…Donielle Prophete, one of Alston’s children, tells the Charlotte Observer that although her mother appreciated the royalty checks she reviewed for the songs she recorded, she was content with life beyond her days as a performer. A mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she was known to sing her hits around the house while doing chores, and she enjoyed knitting and cross-stitching…

February 24, 2018: KHOU11 posted an article titled: “Local artists support hospitalized father who is fighting the flu” It was written by Melissa Correa. KHOU11 focuses on Houston, Texas. From the article:

…Patrick Medrano, a 45-year old father, is fighting for his life in a hospital after he contracted the flu in January.

Medrano, a well-known artist and musician in Houston, is now receiving support from more than 70 local artists.

“This is actually going to be in the live auction tonight,” said Tra Slaughter an artist and friend of Medrano. “This is Patrick’s latest painting.”…

…Medrano’s wife Katy attended the fundraising effort. Medrano, was expected to watch the even through cellphone video because he’s still hospitalized.

“We actually had the flu at the same time”, said Slaughter, who was able to make a full recovery.

Medrano’s flu “that turned into pneumonia. It turns out that some of his organs were beginning to shut down. And he was intubated and put into a medical-induced coma for eight days…

February 25, 2018: East Hampton Patch posted an article titled: “Another CT Child Dies After Suffering From Flu” It was written by Brian McCready. From the article:

The flu has led to the death of nearly 100 Connecticut residents this season and a third child has now died as a result of complications from the flu. DeMarcus White, 6, of Colchester, died Wednesday from the flu, NBC Connecticut reports.

Last week, state Department of Public Health officials said 20 more people died from the flu in the past week, including a Norwalk child. As of Feb. 17. 97 Connecticut residents had died from the flu…

February 25, 2018: KHQ QG posted an article titled: “Spokane four-year-old remains on life support after flu hospitalization”. It was written by Hayley Guenther.  KHQ QG covers Spokane, Washington.

A four-year-old local boy continues to fight for his life after a flu diagnosis earlier this month. On Sunday evening, his family told KHQ he remains on life support.

Randy and Jill Kimberling said it all started with fever. Little Levi’s condition quickly worsened to Pneumonia and Influenza B. Randy said his son has not been conscious since February 12th.

“His lungs are legitimately not making any air or creating any air for his body,” he said. “That’s why he’s on this machine so he can rest his lungs.”…

…Randall and Jill Kimberling didn’t think it would happen to their child. But on February 4 their four-year-old son, Levi, started to feel ill…

…By February 5, Levi’s fever reached 99 degrees. The next day it was 104.2 degrees….

…The Kimberlings say they took Levi to Rockwood when his fever surpassed 104. They say doctors there told them he had the flu and needed to continue to take Tylenol and get rest.

But after a few days went by and Levi wasn’t getting better, the Kimberling’s rushed their son to the Emergency Room at Holy Family. Doctors there took an x-ray of Levi and had him sent immediately to Sacred Heart via ambulance…

…Levi’s fever turned into strep throat, which turned into pneumonia. The lung infection eventually forced doctors to put Levi on a ventilator…

…Levi is in stable condition but he’s not out of the woods yet. His parents say he’ll be on machines that are keeping him alive for at least six more weeks…

The NBC Connecticut article states that DeMarcus White was in kindergarten. The article says he tested positive and was diagnosed with the flu before his death, and that he died of complications form the flu.

February 25, 2018: The Daily Courier posted an article titled “Arizona in Brief: State sees rise in flu, pneumonia deaths as season continues” From the article:

State health officials say there have been at least 523 pneumonia and flu deaths in Arizona so far during the current flu season, over 200 more than at the same time last season.

The state Department of Health Service says many flu-related deaths are due to complications of flu infections, like pneumonia, so death certificates infrequently list influenza, itself, as the cause of death.

The department’s latest weekly report says that two of the flu-associated deaths so far this flu season were of children. The report covers Feb. 11-17, which is flu season’s seventh week….

February 25, 2018: 2KTUU posted an article titled “Flu season brings changes for communion” It was written by Victoria Taylor. From the article:

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu might be winding down but the season is far from over.

In its weekly update released on Friday, the CDC said the total number of people visiting a health care provider for flu like symptoms dropped about one percent….

…The threat of the virus led the Archbishop of Anchorage to ask Catholic Churches in Alaska to temporarily alter the way communion is given. “Obviously you have a room full of people, they’re breathing on one another and coughing and various things. Obviously these are just precautions that help to minimize the spread and we do what we can out of charity so that we respect all members of the body of Christ,” Father Tom Lilly with St. Benedict’s Catholic Church said.

For the remainder of the flu season, communion will continue to include the body of Christ, but won’t include drinking from the communion cup. Parishioners are encouraged to avoid holding hands and of course stay at home if you become sick. Father Tom says there are communion options available for those who may be in the hospital or home bound.

February 25, 2018: MyHighPlains.com posted an article titled “Flu, Weather Conditions Prompt Local Girl Scouts to Extend Cookie Sale” It was written by Audrey Roberson. The article is about Amarillo, Texas. From the article:

Cookie season was set to end February 25, but has now been extended through March 4, 2018, providing the girls with one additional weekend to accomplish their cookie-selling goals.

“Each year our girls look forward to the one opportunity when they sell cookies to raise troop funds,” CEO of Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains, Becky Burton said. “We all realize how brutal the flu season has been, impacting many of our families and preventing them from participating.”

“Our girls are so grateful for the extension of cookie season,” Girl Scout Product Program Coordinator in Amarillo, Marsha Goebel said. “With the harsh weather, many of our troops have had to cancel cookie booths. By extending through March 4th, all of our girls, including those who were out earlier due to illness, will now have the chance to make up for those missed opportunities.”…

February 28, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled: “A teen was told he likely had the flu. It turned out to be late-stage cancer.” It was written by Lindsey Bever. From the article:

With the high number of influenza cases continuing to climb across the country, the teenager was told he likely had the virus, too.

Hunter Brady, from the Tampa area, started to feel tired and weak late last year, then he developed aches and pains and a low-grade fever, according to a YouCaring page set up for the boy.

He was told to “let the virus run its course,” his cousin wrote on the fundraising page…

…When the youth didn’t get better, his family took him to a nearby hospital. Doctors soon discovered that one of his lungs had collapsed and was filled with fluid, and his lymph nodes were badly swollen.

It turned out Hunter did not have the flu.

He had 4B Hodgkin Lymphoma…

March 2, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled “Their 6-year-old daughter was dead, killed by the flu, but the worrying was just beginning” It was written by Terrence McCoy. From the article:

…One study, published in 2016 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that a neighborhood’s poverty rate was deeply associated with the effects of the flu – across all regions, races and ages. Another study, this one rooted in Tennessee, determined that poverty was related to the influenza hospitalization rate, as well as its prognosticators: female-headed households, neighborhood density, and crowded housing. Then a third study, published last November, confirmed these findings.

“The ‘why’ is much more difficult,” said Kimberly Yousey-Hindes, author of the study in the CDC journal and a lecturer of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. There are hypotheses: The poor often have a lower baseline of health and usually live in more crowded homes and neighborhoods. Research has also shown they are less likely to get flu shots, which, for children on Medicaid, are funded through a government program called Vaccines for Children. For adults in some states, including West Virginia, the shot is covered by Medicaid. But the decision to skip the flu vaccine, experts say, appears to be as much about the difficult realities of poverty as it is about access to vaccines and health care.

“We hear from a lot of families that, ‘I wish I could have come sooner, but I was afraid I would lose my job,'” said Marcee White, a doctor with Children’s National Health System, who treats patients in the poorest parts of Washington. “That’s a true fear of families living in poverty- taking that time off, especially when you have influenza, which can be a long illness.”…

March 2, 2018: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a news release titled: “FDA warns of fraudulent and unapproved flu products” From the news release:

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from health fraud, the agency is reminding customers to be wary of unapproved products claiming to prevent, treat or cure influenza, or flu. This year’s severe flu season raises new concerns about the potential for consumers to be lured into buying unproven treatments, and even worse, buying counterfeit antivirals online from websites that appear to be legitimate online pharmacies…

…Consumers should be aware that there are no legally marketed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to prevent or cure the flu. However, there are legal OTC products to reduce fever and to relieve muscle aches, congestion and other symptoms typically associated with the flu, and have not been evaluated by the FDA for that intended use.

These flu claims may indicate that an OTC product is fraudulent:

  • reduces severity and length of the flu;
  • boosts your immunity naturally without a flu shot;
  • safe and effective alternative to the flu vaccine;
  • prevents catching the flu;
  • effective treatment for the flu;
  • faster recovery from the flu; or
  • supports your body’s natural immune defenses to fight off the flu…

…Online pharmacies present another opportunity for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Online pharmacies may claim to sell prescription antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, at reduced prices or without a prescription. The FDA advises consumers to avoid purchasing products making such claims.

Beware of online pharmacies that:

  • allow you to buy prescription medicine without a prescription from your health care provider;
  • do not have a U.S. state-state-liscened pharmacist available to answer your questions;
  • offer very low prices that seem too good to be true; or
  • are located outside of the U.S. or ship worldwide…

…The FDA recommends consumers buy prescription drugs from their local pharmacy or only through an online pharmacy that requires a valid prescription from a doctor or other authorized health care professional and is licensed by the state board of pharmacy (or equivalent state agency) where the patient is located…

March 5, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled: “Bulgaria reports outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu” From the article:

Bulgaria has reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus on a farm in the northeastern district of Dobrich, the national food safety agency said on Monday.

The virus, found on a farm in the town of General Toshevo, located near the border with Romania, would lead to the death of 140,000 birds, the agency said.

“A three-kilometer protection zone and a 10-km observation area around the livestock area were set up,” the agency said in a statement, adding that a ban on the trade and movement of domestic, wild, and other birds and trade in eggs, had been imposed.

The Balkan country has also resisted four cases of bird flu since October.

The virulence of highly pathogenic bird flu viruses has prompted countries such as Saudi Arabia to bar poultry imports from Bulgaria.

March 6, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled: “H1N1 swine flu kills one in Hungary: MTI agency” From the article:

A man has died of the H1N1 flu virus in a hospital in Hungary, national news agency MTI said on Tuesday, quoting regional daily Eszak-Magyraorszag.

Janos Orosz, head of intensive care in the hospital in the northern city of Satoraljaujhely, told the paper that the B strain of the virus, also known as swine flu, had been identified…

March 6, 2018: Popular Science posted an article titled: “Influenza B is trying to escape our vaccine” It was written by Sara Chodosh. From the article:

…Though we’re only aware of it for a few months each year, influenza is constantly circling the world, and as it goes it accumulates new mutations in its genome. Sometimes these variations don’t change anything substantive, but sometimes they give the virus a survival advantage. And when that happens, the mutation can quickly spread – the older viruses don’t survive as well, so the new, mutated ones take over.

That’s what’s happening in the influenza B virus right now. We spend most of our time worrying about the influenza A strains, which include H1N1 (yes, the swine flu) and H3N2, the latter of which is a particularly nasty subtype that puts more people in the hospital than any other sort of flu. Those strains get more attention in part because they’re more dangerous, and they’re more dangerous because they mutate faster and are more diverse. That means our annual vaccine selection and to be wrong for the A strains most often. We only get to pick one strain per subtype- one H1N1 and one H3N2 virus – and with so many mutations circulating, it’s hard to pin down exactly which one will cause the most trouble.

The B viruses are less diverse and mutate more slowly, which makes them generally less dangerous. We also get to pick two B strains every year, since the majority of people in the U.S. get a quadrivalent vaccine (meaning it has four parts). Most years there are relatively minor changes to the B virus genome, and therefore small changes to the viruses contained in the vaccine. In the quadrivalent shot, at least, we’ve had the same B strain for the last 9 years combined with a rotating set of other, less common B strains…

…The B strain that made their decision so difficult is known as the Victoria lineage. Flu strains have a complicated nomenclature, but one of the primary ways to differentiate them is by referring to the location where each virus was first isolated. The other main lineage, Yamagata, usually predominates. But The Who has detected a change in the Victoria lineage that is helping some of its viruses escape our current vaccine…

March 7, 2018: The Washington Post posted an article titled: “Crowded Shelters And The Vicious Flu Brew Perfect Storm For the Homeless” It was written by Carmen Heredia Rodriquez from Kaiser Health News. From the article:

…For the general population, the flu represents a serious health concern. But for the homeless – who deal with higher rates of chronic illness, fewer resources and crowded conditions in shelters – catching the flu can be a matter of life or death…

…If you’re homeless, having the flu “might mean that you can’t get up and manage to stay warm. You can’t go get food. And if you have a substance abuse disorder and you need to maintain either alcohol or opioid use, then you go into withdrawal,” said Eown Reike, a board member of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

Avoiding the flu is just one of many health challenges for those who are homeless. Homelessness worsens depression and cognitive function, said Dr. Margot Kurshel, a professor of medicine at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

Homeless people also have a harder time managing chronic diseases. Roughly two-thirds of the group cope with a chronic condition or a substance abuse disorder. Smoking is common. And 3 in 10 people who are chronically homeless have a serious mental illness, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy…

…In Washington, flu activity is two levels below the most severe “widespread” category, according to the CDC. However, the number of people who have been infected so far is the highest in five years, with 2,150 confirmed cases as of Feb. 17. Maryland reported 23,111 laboratory-confirmed cases as of Feb. 17, and Virginia health officials said the state had 2,652 cases as of last Friday….

March 7, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled “China reports highly pathogenic H5N6, H7N9 bird flu outbreaks: OIE” From the article:

China reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu at a duck farm in the Guangxi province, the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday, citing a report from the Chinese agriculture ministry.

The virus killed 23,950 ducks out of a flock of 30,462 ducks, the ministry said. The remaining ducks were all slaughtered, it said.

In a separate report, China also reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H7N9 bird flu in a backyard in Shaanxi province, the OIE said.

The virus killed 810 layers out of a flock of 1,000 birds, it says.

March 7, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 8 ending February 24, 2018” From the FluView:

  • During week 8 (February 18-24, 2018), influenza activity decreased in the United States.
  • While influenza A (H3) viruses continue be predominant this season, during week 8, the overall proportion of influenza A viruses is declining and the proportion of influenza B viruses is increasing. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Seventeen influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 81.7 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 5.0%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, the District of Columbia, and 32 other states experienced high ILI activity; Puerto Rico and nine states experienced moderate ILI activity; six stats experienced low ILI activity; and three states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 45 states was reported as widespread; Guam and two states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and three states reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported no activity.
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, and 32 states experienced high activity (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming).
  • Puerto Rico and nine states experienced moderate ILI activity (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming).
  • Six states experienced low ILI activity (Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, North Dakota, Tennessee and Washington).
  • Three states experienced minimal ILI activity (Florida, Maine, and Montana).

March 7, 2018: AZ Central (part of the USA Today Network) posted an article titled: “Number of Arizona flu reports steadily dropping after difficult season”. It was written by Lurissa Carbajal. From the article:

Arizona flu cases took another sharp drop last week, with 487 confirmed cases, a further sign that the worst flu season in nearly a decade is slowing down, data from the Arizona Department of Health Services shows.

The ADHS report for the week ending March 3 indicated there was a 27-percent decrease from the 649 cases reported the previous week.

As of March 3, there were a total of 27,444 confirmed cases of the flu in Arizona this season, which began Oct. 1, according to the ADHS website data. As of the same week in 2017, there were 4,702 cases confirmed…

…Cases of the flu reached peak numbers earlier this season when compared with recent years. It usually peaks by February, but flu cases started peaking after Christmas and into January this year, ADHS data shows. The first week of January saw nearly 2,500 confirmed cases in Arizona…

March 7, 2018: Maine Public posted an article titled: “5 More Deaths Even As Flu Cases Drop For 4th Week In Maine” It was written by the AP. From the article:

The Maine Center for Disease Control says five more people have died from the flu in the past week, even as the number of new cases and hospitalizations slowed.

The state said Wednesday that the number of new confirmed cases dropped 23 percent from the week before to 497, and the number of hospitalizations dropped by half to 54. Overall, the statistics suggest the number of influenza cases has dropped for a fourth week….

March 7, 2018: CBS8 posted an article titled: “Flu Cases on the rise again in San Diego” From the article:

The number of confirmed influenza cases in San Diego County rose again last week after two weeks of decline.

The county had 708 lab-confirmed flu cases last week, up from 542 the previous week, according to data released by the county Health and Human Services Agency…

…The San Diego region is among those across the country experiencing a particularly strong flu season.

Seven flu-related deaths were reported in the county last week, bringing this season’s total to 289. There were 61 deaths at this time last season.

To date, there have been 18,135 confirmed cases in the county, compared to 4,473 at this time last season…

March 7, 2018: Arkansas Online posted an article titled: “State’s flu deaths rise to 184; Arkansas’ deadliest season expected to end in 5 weeks”. It was written by Andy Davis. From the article:

The flu-related deaths of five more Arkansans, including two children under 19, were reported to the state Department of Health in the past week, raising the total death toll from this year’s flu season to 184.

Meanwhile, information reported by doctor’s offices and hospitals indicated the number of new cases continued declining.

State Epidemiologist Dirk Haselow said it appears the state’s flu season peaked in early February.

If the season lasts 20 weeks, as most seasons do, it should end in about five weeks…

…The death toll in Arkansas last month surpassed the 110 people who died in the 2014-15 season, which had been the state’s deadliest since the state Department of Health began tracking flu deaths in 2000.

The most recent deaths include two children or teenagers age 5 to 18 and three people who were 65 or older.

Both of the children who died had not been vaccinated against the flu and were infected with influenza B viruses, which most commonly infect children, Haselow said…

…Three other Arkansas children or teenagers have also died from the flu this season, 134 were age 65 or older, 31 who were age 45-64 and 11 who were 25-44…

…Of the 184 Arkansans who have died from the flu this season, 38 had been vaccinated and 76 had not. Whether any of the others had been vaccinated hadn’t been determined…

March 7, 2018: The Morning Call posted an article titled: “More than 93 percent of flu-related deaths in PA involve persons 65 or older” It was written by Matt Coughlin. From the article:

The number of flu-related deaths in Pennsylvania continues to climb – to 169 this year – and the majority of those cases involve residents 50 or older.

Nineteen more cases were reported last week, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, raising the total to 169 deaths during the current influenza season which began in October. Of those, only five involved children and 158 involved Pennsylvanians over the age of 50. The majority of those – 132 – were people 65 or older.

More than 92,000 cases of the flu have been reported in Pennsylvania, including 4,494 in Northampton County and 2,923 in Lehigh County…

March 7, 2018: NBCDFW.com posted an article titled: “North Texas Man Gets The Flu; Loses Nine Fingers And Both Feet” It was written by Bianca Castro. From the article:

A North Texas man’s illness began with a fever but ended with amputations.

Last month, NBC 5 reported about 51-year-old Brian Herndon, and now were are hearing from the father of two about surviving his battle with influenza that resulted in the loss of nine fingers and both feet.

He said it all started with what seemed like a routine case of the flu, as Herndon developed a high fever the morning of Jan. 4.

His wife, Jaye Herndon, says she was at the pharmacy, picking up the antiviral Tamiflu, when she reviewed a text message from Brian saying he needed to go to the hospital.

They say they went to the hospital, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and they went home.

The following morning, Jaye Herndon says, she rushed him to the emergency room once again.

The flu had progressed from pneumonia to kidney failure, respiratory failure and other symptoms of septic shock.

When Brian Herndon lost blood flow to his fingers and feet, doctors had no choice but to amputate, he says….

…He says he has no underlying health conditions and is as healthy as he’s always been.

Doctors say these complications are rare, but they show how dangerous the flu can be…

March 7, 2018: The Post and Courier posted an article titled: “Flu activity no longer widespread in South Carolina after difficult season that has killed 201” It was written by Mary Katherine Wildeman. From the article:

Flu activity in South Carolina is considered to be regional, not widespread, for the first time since the flu began sweeping the state in the beginning of the year, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Wednesday.

Though influenza has been on the decline for a few weeks after a difficult season, the first week of March saw only 2,192 confirmed cases.

There were almost three times that amount the week before, with 6,332 cases.

No children died of the flu in the first week of March. Two deaths had been reported before. DHEC does not identify children who have died of the flu.

Seventy people were hospitalized in the state because of flu last week. There were 34 deaths, but 26 happened in weeks prior and are only now being reported by the state health agency. In all, 201 South Carolinians have died of the flu this season…

March 9, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 9 ending March 3, 2018” From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A (H3) viruses have predominated this season. However, in recent weeks the proportion of influenza A viruses has declined, and during week 9, the numbers of influenza A and influenza B viruses reported were similar. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • A cumulative rate of 86.3 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 3.7%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City and 21 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 34 states was reported as widespread; Guam and 12 states reported regional activity at or above Puerto Rico, and five states experienced low ILI activity; and nine states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • Widespread activity was reported by Puerto Rico, and 24 states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
  • Regional influenza activity was reported by Guam and 12 states (Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah).
  • Local influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia and four states (Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia).
  • No influenza activity was reported by the U.S. Virgin Islands.

March 15, 2018: NBC San Diego posted an article titled: “Doctors say Escondido Teen Dies After Catching the Flu” It was written by Artie Ojeda. From the article:

A North County teenager is the 302nd person to die of flu-like symptoms in the region this season, according to the San Diego County Department of Health (DEH).

Alexa Barbin, a 19-year-old from Escondido, was feeling ill for several days before her family rushed her to the hospital last Thursday, according to her mother, Apryl Barbin…

…Alexa Barbin died seven hours later.

Doctors told Apryl Barbin her daughter’s blood pressure had dropped, and she contracted the severe blood infection called sepsis. She said her daughter was revived twice in the intensive care unit, but could not be revived a third time.

“We said maybe we should have taken her in sooner, we should have taken her to the doctor. But it didn’t seem anything out of the ordinary,” said Barbin.

In fact, Apryl Barbin says her daughter was much sicker with the flu in December, but recovered and was healthy. She did not get a flu vaccine…

…Doctors have told Apryl Barbin her daughter contracted the Influenza B virus strain…

March 16, 2018: CNBC posted an article titled: “Scientists say they are on the verge of creating a universal flu vaccine” It was written by Meg Tirrell. From the article:

…[Peter] Palese is one of several scientists working on what they call the holy grail of flu: a universal vaccine, one that would protect against all strains of the virus and be durable for multiple years – if not a lifetime.

In order to do that, Palese’s team built a new virus, one that doesn’t exist in nature. It’s the basis of a vaccine that is now in phase 1 clinical trials, funding by British drug- and vaccine-maker GlaxoSmithKline and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Initial results are expected within a year.

Calls for a universal flu vaccine crescendoed during this year’s flu season, one of the most severe on recent record. But flu always takes a major toll, hospitalizing as many as 710,000 people and killing between 12,000 and 56,000 each season in the U.S. alone, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

March 16, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 10 ending March 10, 2018” From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A (H3) viruses have predominated this season. However, in recent weeks, the proportion of influenza A viruses has declined, and during week 10, the numbers of influenza A and influenza B viruses reported were similar. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Nine influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 89.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) was 3.3%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Twelve states experienced high ILI activity; 13 states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City and 14 states experienced low ILI activity; 11 states experienced minimal ILI activity; and Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia had insufficient data.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 26 states was reported as widespread; Guam and 19 states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and five states reported local activity; one state reported sporadic activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported no activity.
  • Twelve states experienced high activity (Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming).
  • Thirteen states experienced moderate ILI activity (Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin).
  • New York City and 14 states experienced low ILI activity (Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia).
  • Eleven states experienced minimal ILI activity (Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington).
  • Data were insufficient to calculate an ILI activity level from the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

March 19, 2018: Delaware.gov posted an article titled: “DPH Announces New Flu-Related Death as Numbers of Statewide Cases Continue to Drop” From the article:

Statewide flu totals in Delaware decreased for the third week in a row, according to the Division of Public Health (DPH). During the week ending March 10, DPH reports 290 laboratory-confirmed flu cases, down from the prior week’s total of 381 confirmed cases. The latest numbers increase the total number of influenza cases for the season to 7,433. DPH is also reporting one additional flu-related death, a 62-year-old female from New Castle County with multiple underlying health conditions, bringing the number of flu-related deaths for the 2017-2018 flu season to 31…

March 19, 2018: Mashable posted an article titled: “It’s sick flight crews you need to worry about, not passengers: study” It was written by Andrew Freedman. From the article:

…The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claims to be the first to rigorously test the spread of viruses – specifically influenza – that are transmitted via large droplets, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Researchers from Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Boeing employed teams of observers in pairs, sitting every five rows down in economy class in single-aisle aircraft during 10 transcontinental flights in 2012 and 2013. These observers watched and recorded movements of passengers during the flight using an iPad app.

The study used the movement of each passenger to simulate the spread of influenza virus from a passenger seated in the mid-cabin (seat 14C, to be exact) and an infectious crew member. The researchers developed a new model of the network of diseases spread, to find out how many additional people would get sick while on typical flights that last between 4 and 5 hours.

The results were surprising. On average, an infectious passenger seated in mid-cabin had the potential to infect an additional 0.7 additional people per flight.

However, if an infectious crew member chose not to stay home, and did not take medication to limit their coughing, then that infectious crew member would infect an additional 4.6 passengers per flight, the study found…

…The study found that people sitting in window seats who did not get up to go use the restroom or check the overhead bin had far less exposure to infectious passengers than people sitting in the aisle, or people who spent time in line waiting for the restroom at the far back of the cabin…

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America published the study titled “Behaviors, movements, and transmission of droplet-mediated respiratory diseases during transcontinental airline flights on March 19, 2018.

March 20, 2018: KELO 1320 AM – 107.9 FM posted an article titled: “Minnesota flu numbers at lowest level in months” It was written by Todd Epp. From the article:

It’s been a record-breaking flu season, but it seems things have turned a corner.

The Minnesota Department of Health reports there were more than 100 flu-related hospitalizations in the state the week ending March 10. But that’s about half the number reported the previous week, and flu-related hospitalizations are at their lowest level since early December.

Health Department Senior Epidemiologist Melissa McMahon says the severity of this year’s flu outbreak was due in part to the nature of the virus. “It’s a flu AH3-dominant year this year, and that does tend to hit elderly persons harder than other years,” she explains.

McMahon adds older people are already at a higher risk of flu-related hospitalizations. Minnesota has seen more than 5,600 people hospitalized with the flu this year, compared to about 3,700 the year before and 1,500 during the 2016 season. While the number of cases are going down, McMahon says there’s still another flu strain they’re monitoring.

“We are seeing a lot of influenza B, which is also common for an H3 year,” she adds. “We tend to see influenza B kind of more in the springtime.”

And whether or not that’s dying down, we can’t say yet…

March 21, 2018: Willamette Week posted an article titled: “Oregon Failed to Provide Flu Vaccinations to Most of Its Prison Inmates. One Woman Died.” It was written by Katie Shepherd. From the article:

On Jan. 15, Tina Ferri died from the flu. Her last hours were spent in a hospital in Tualatin, surrounded by her husband, children – and two prison guards.

“The guards they had watching her were sitting in the room sleeping as we’re siting there grieving our dying mom,” says Mistina Ferri, Tina’s daughter. “They still had shackles on her.”

Ferri, 53, died of organ failure following a staph infection and pneumonia in both lungs. Prison officials say she was the lone casualty of a January flu outbreak inside Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville that sickened at least 44 inmates, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Ferri’s death was unusual. But she shared one thing in common with the vast majority of Coffee Creek inmates: Her medical records show she did not receive a flu shot.

In fact, only about 18 percent of inmates at Coffee Creek were inoculated against the flu this season.

Experts say that rate left prisoners defenseless in a confined space as the virus spread…

March 22, 2018: The Fresno Bee posted an article titled: “Flu and other contagious bugs pose threats to kids over spring break”. It was written by Barbara Anderson. From the article:

Flu season is not over and children are the primary target of a strain that has been on an upswing in Fresno just in time for it to spread over spring break…

…”We thought the flu season was on the way out and then influenza B struck,” said Dr. Nicole Calvillo, a Kaiser Permanente primary care physician in Clovis…

…Until recently, an H3N2 strain of influenza A had been the flu that caused hospitals, such as Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, to erect tents in parking lots to handle overflows of flu patients. And the virus has been severe. Fresno and Tulare counties each have reported four deaths. California has had 232 flu-related deaths of people younger than 65 (the state does not count deaths of older adults).

It’s too soon to know if Influenza A has reached its peak, but cases have begun to decrease in the central San Joaquin Valley even as influenza B has begun to take its place, sending more people to doctors and hospital emergency rooms.

A spring surge of influenza B symptoms is not unusual, said David Luchini, assistant director of the Fresno County Department of Public Health. The strain strikes children more often than adults, he said. The health department is monitoring its course…

…Washing hands can help prevent the spread of the viruses, she said. As for the flu, she said Tulare County is “definitely telling people it’s still flu season and you can get your flu shot.”…

…It could be too late, however, for protection over spring break. The vaccine takes two weeks to be working at full strength, and that will not be enough time to protect children and parents who are traveling to amusement parks and family gatherings next week…

March 23, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 11 ending March 17, 2018” From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A(H3 viruses have predominated this season. However, in recent weeks the proportion of influenza A viruses has declined, and during week 11, influenza B viruses were more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Five influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 93.5 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.7%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. Nine of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Six states experienced high ILI activity; nine states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 17 states experienced low ILI activity; and 18 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in 17 states was reported as widespread: Guam, Puerto Rico and 26 states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and five states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and five states reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands and two states reported sporadic activity.
  • Six states experienced high activity (Arizona, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming).
  • Nine states experienced moderate ILI activity (California, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island).
  • New York City, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 17 states experienced low ILI activity (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington).
  • Eighteen states experienced minimal ILI activity (Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).

March 23, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled: “South Africa detects avian flu in seabirds”. From the article:

South Africa has detected an outbreak of avian flu in seabirds, citing the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain that infected the country’s poultry industry last year…

…In the latest outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, seabird species including African penguins and Cape gannets have been affected across the country’s coastline, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs said.

The department has stopped all research activities involving the handling of seabirds and warned the public to exercise caution when approaching seabirds in an effort to contain the outbreak…

March 23, 2018: Fox 59 posted an article titled: “New health department flu report shows 289 Hoosier deaths this season” From the article:

The latest report from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) shows flue deaths in Indiana continue to rise.

The report shows 289 flu deaths in the state this season. That’s up from last week’s report showing 278 deaths.

Twenty Indiana counties have experienced at least five flu deaths, according to the report. The breakdown is as follows: Adams 9; Allen 25; Boone 6; DeKalb 5; Elkhart 5; Floyd 10; Grant 9; Hamilton 11; Jackson 5; Johnson 7; Lake 16; LaPorte 5; Madison 5; Marion 22; Morgan 9; Noble 5; Shelby 8; St. Joseph 8; Tippecanoe 5; Vanderburgh 13.

ISDH says three of the 278 deaths were four years old or less. Eight deaths were reported in the 5-24 age bracket, 16 in the 25-49 age bracket, 46 in the 50-64 age bracket and 216 in the 65+ age bracket.

March 24, 2018: News & Record posted an article titled: “Flu-related death total climbs to 328 in NC” It was written by Richard Carver Winston. From the article:

North Carolina’s deadliest flu season in at least a decade claimed another 23 victims, state health officials said Thursday.

The overall death total includes eight from the week that ended March 17. It also included 15 who died in previous weeks and were later determined to have had the flu.

By comparison, the most deaths for any week – so far – was 50 for the week that ended Feb. 17. The number of confirmed flu cases shows the season reached its peak between Feb. 10 and Feb 17.

Visitor restrictions for children 12 and under ended March 16 at Triad hospitals after being put in place Jan. 12. Infection prevention teams at the hospitals met and determined they were all seeing similar downward trends in flu cases…

March 24, 2018: StarTribune posted an article titled: “Mapping the flu? Minnesota says there’s an app for that”. It was written by Glenn Howatt. From the article:

The Minnesota Health Department is turning to crowdsourcing as a way to learn more about the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, in a pilot project that includes digital mapping and test kits for volunteers.

In partnership with a smartphone-based app and website called Flu Near You, state health officials are seeking volunteers who are willing to send in a nasal swab when they develop typical flu symptoms such as fever, fatigue, chills, and night sweats.

Minnesota is one of two states to test the concept, which will build on the seven years of experience that Flu Near You has in collecting reports of symptoms from the general public.

Flu Near You participants get a weekly e-mail from the nonprofit organization asking if they have any flu-like symptoms and if they have gotten a flu shot. These anonymous reports are then displayed on an online map.

The Minnesota project goes one step further. Volunteers will receive a kit of nasal swabs from the state when they sign up. If they get sick, they’re asked to take a sample and mail it to the Health Department laboratory, which will run a battery of tests for influenza and several other respiratory infections that produce similar symptoms…

March 26, 2018: Democrat & Chronicle (part of the USA Today Network) posted an article titled: “Flu won’t quit: Another death, more cases reported in Monroe County”. It was written by Patti Singer. From the article:

After two weeks with no flu-related deaths and three weeks with declines in the number of laboratory-confirmed cases, both went up in Monroe County for the week ending March 17.

A person in the 75-84 age group died, bringing the season total of deaths to 14. That’s one more than last season and double the deaths for the 2015-15 season.

New confirmed cases from March 11-17 totaled 290, bringing the season total to 5,913, according to data from the Monroe County Department of Public Health.

Monroe County had, 5,718 cases the past two seasons combined. Monroe County had 4,736 cases in the 2014-15 season…

March 27, 2018: WTOP posted an article titled: “Flu season lingers in DC area”. It was written by Kristi King. From the article:

The flu season appears to be winding down in Maryland and Virginia; but in D.C., there was a rise in the number of reported cases last week…

…D.C.’s flu season peaked in late January with 339 cases reported in one week. Then, it fell to a low of 73 cases in early March. But last week, 103 new cases were reported.

In Maryland and Virginia, the CDC classifies flu as “widespread”. The number of new cases week to week has been steadily declining.

In Maryland, the intensity level of the flu gradually dropped from “high” in the week ending Feb. 24, to moderate, low and the minimal for the week ending March 17.

Similar declines have been observed in Virginia…

March 28, 2018: The Mercury News posted an article titled: “CDC: A second flu outbreak may be here”. It was written by Patrick May. From the article:

Just when we all thought we were done with this winter’s deadly flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that another influenza strain could be about to hit the nation.

While the season was mainly dominated by the H3N2 virus, an influenza A strain that is more severe and less receptive to vaccines than other types of the flu, influenza B has now overtaken influenza A. And that, says the CDC, could be setting the stage for a second wave of misery.

Cases of the B-strain made up nearly 60 percent of the country’s flu cases reported during the week of March 17, said the CDC. Five influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported, along with a flu-associated hospitalization rate of 93.5 per 100,000 population. Higher-than-normal flu activity was reported in six states, while nine other starts reported moderate activity. Flu cases were widespread in California…

…While flu activity nationwide has dropped to just above normal non-flu season levels, the B viruses overtook influenza A during the week ending March 17, according to the CDC. And the agency is warning that influenza B infections, which commonly strike later in the season, could pose even greater risks for young children…

…The good news, says a report in Time magazine, is that influenza B viruses typically respond better to vaccines than influenza A viruses. By CDC estimates, this year’s flu shot was 42 percent effective against influenza B, versus 25 percent effective against H3N2…

April 1, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 12 ending March 24, 2018” From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season. However, in recent weeks the proportion of influenza A viruses has declined, and during week 12, influenza B viruses were more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and then influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Four influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 96.1 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.5%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. Nine of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Four states experienced high ILI activity; eight states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 14 states experienced low ILI activity; and 24 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 16 states was reported as widespread; 22 states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia, Guan and eight states reported local activity; four states reported sporadic activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported no influenza activity.
  • Four states experienced high activity (Alaska, South Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming).
  • Eight states experienced moderate ILI activity (Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota)
  • New York City, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 14 states experienced low ILI activity (California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington).
  • Twenty-four states experienced minimal ILI activity (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).

April 1, 2018: KCTV News 5 posted an article titled: “Flu is still hanging around, CDC warns”. It was written by Spencer Ernst. From the article:

Doctors are still seeing a number of patients with flu, but the numbers are declining amid an intense flu season.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed four more flu-associated pediatric deaths in the 12th week of the season, bringing the total to 137 since October. Puerto Rico and 16 states were seeing widespread flu cases during the week ending March 24, the CDC said Friday in its weekly surveillance report…

…The CDC says 27,438 people were hospitalized with the flu between October 1 and March 24. Those most vulnerable are people over age 65, followed by adults between the ages of 50 and 64 years old. Small children and people with underlying medical conditions like asthma or who are overweight are also vulnerable to an intense case of the flu.

There were 3,942 new confirmed infections for the week ending March 24, bringing the total this season to 254,280…

April 3, 2018: ABC 13 WHAM (Rochester, New York) posted an article titled: “15 adults dead from “record flu season” in Monroe County” From the article:

The number of people who have died from the flu in Monroe County now stands at 15.

All 15 of the people who died were adults. This data comes from the Monroe County Department of Health as of March 24.

Monroe County Senior Public Health Educator John Ricci said this is a record flu season.

The Monroe County Health Department says we’ve not seen more than 6,000 cases of flu. Of the 6,194 confirmed cases, 4,210 are flu A, and 1,981 are flu B. Three cases are both A and B. 1,092 cases have been hospitalized…

…The 15 individuals who died this season have been ages 50 or older. Under federal law, the number of people diagnosed with the flu who also received flu shots cannot be disclosed. Vaccination records fall under HIPPA.

April 3, 2018: York Daily Record posted an article titled: “Flu complications left her learning how to eat, walk again. A blood drive will honor her.” It was written by Abbey Zelko. From the article:

It’s been more than two months since a nightmare unfolded for a southern York County teen and her family,

Fourteen-year-old Kaylie Heaton, of Hopewell Township, had been sick for a week when severe complications from the flu nearly took her life.

The Southeastern Middle School eighth-graded went into cardiac arrest and later, while on a bedside cardiac bypass machine, suffered a stroke that affected movement on the left side of her body.

For weeks, she couldn’t walk or talk.

But now, her doctor says things are looking up.

Kaylie has started doing physical and occupational therapy and will soon go to rehab to re-gain muscle strength and learn how to eat and walk again, said Dr. Kristen Nelson, director of the Pediatric Cardiac ICU at Johns Hopkins Hospital…

April 3, 2018: CBS Chicago posted an article titled: “Second Wave Of Flu Hits Chicago Area”. From the article:

A second wave of flu is hitting the area, and the culprit is ineffective flu shots, doctors say.

At Elmhurst Hospital, doctors are seeing an unusual uptick in cases, especially this late in the season.

The influenza A strain that arrived last fall has been succeeded by an influenza B strain. This year’s vaccine has been only 36 percent effective, experts say…

…The latest data from the Illinois Department Of Health shows 39 people with the flu were in intensive care last week. Chicago and Champaign regions had the highest number of cases.

Doctors warn the B strain is powerful. Many who show up at the emergency room wind up getting admitted, especially older patients with other health issues, such as asthma and COPD.

State health officials say a rabid increase in cases at the end of 2017, the highest in eight years. And now, they are seeing flu activity much later in the season than normal…

April 6, 2018: NBCDFW 5 posted an article titled: “Dallas County Reports Two More High-Risk Flu-Related Deaths” From the article:

Two people with high-risk health conditions are dead after developing complications from the seasonal flu, Dallas County Health and Human Services confirms.

The deaths bring the total number of flu-related deaths in the county to 82 for the 2017-2018 season.

The patients were a 33-year-old from Lewisville and a 77-year-old from Dallas. For medical confidentiality and personal reasons, DCHHS does not provide additional identifying information…

April 6, 2018: Idaho State Journal posted an article titled: “Idaho’s ongoing flu season is deadliest in decades” It was written by Emily Lowe. From the article:

This year marks Idaho’s deadliest flu season in several decades, following 94 flu-related deaths, according to Idaho’s influenza surveillance coordinator.

And Idaho’s flu season is not over yet. The state’s flu season runs from October to May, said Randy Pederson, the state’s influenza surveillance coordinator.

Eight people died from influenza just last week in Idaho. Seven of those deaths occurred in the Treasure Valley, according to Pederson.

While flu season peaked in January and hit especially hard in the panhandle area of the state – 39 of the 94 deaths – last week was the deadliest week in the Treasure Valley for flu deaths, Pederson said…

…Of the 94 deaths in Idaho, only four occurred in people who were not over 50 years old. None of the four deaths occurred in people under 18 years old, according to an Idaho Influenza Surveillance Update report. All eight flu-death victims last week were over 50 years old, Pederson said…

April 6, 2018: UPI posted an article titled: “Second wave of flu season hits U.S.” It was written by Allen Cone. From the article:

The winter season ended last month, but that doesn’t mean the danger of getting the flu is over, even though it is springtime.

Rather than getting Influenza A, you have a greater chance of getting Influenza B. They can carry roughly the same level of severity, having a similar cough, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, sore throat, fatigue and low fever…

…Although influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season, the influenza B viruses have increased…

…The good news is that Influenza B can be more easily and effectively treated than Influenza A with the flu vaccine, as well as antivirals, including Oseltamivir, commonly known as Tamiflu…

…But bad news remains: You can still get sick from influenza B even if you’ve already been hit with an A strain…

April 6, 2018: NBC Connecticut posted an article titled: “Veterinarian Warns of Swine Flu in Cats”. It was written by Catalina Trivino. From the article:

A local animal hospital in Cheshire is waning residents about cats contracting the swine flu.

Two cats died from the swine flu in Connecticut last week. According to a veterinarian at VCA Cheshire Animal Hospital, it is very rare for a cat to get hte virus.

Dr. Deborah Goul has been a practicing veterinarian for the last 31 years and for the first time she’s had to treat two cats for swine flu.

Goul said swine flu is a virus that affects mostly pigs and people and can cause fever and respiratory problems…

She said both cats that died had the same owner who brought them into the facility with concerns after one cat was having difficulty breathing.

The cat died early last week and soon after, the second cat – experiencing similar symptoms – was brought in and passed away.

Both animals had other pre-existing conditions…

…Dr. Goul said the owner of the cats was also recently sick himself. While it is unusual for a disease to transfer from human to pet and vice versa, it can happen…

…There is no treatment available to fight swine flu. An infected cat just need supportive care to get through the virus…

April 7, 2018: Cleveland.com posted an article titled: “Flu season 2018 lasting longer than normal, strain B hitting now” It was written by Julie Washington. From the article:

…A typical flu season usually lasts about six weeks and ends in March, but this flu season so far has seen 16 weeks of widespread flu in Ohio, said Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan, medical director for infectious prevention at MetroHealth Medical Center.

“We still have positive tests (for flu) every day,” she said. “I don’t remember another flu season that’s lasted this long, and this many people got sick.”

Cuyahoga County has 41 flu-related deaths so far this season, higher than 21 deaths for the 2016-2017 season, said Richard Stacklin, data analyst with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health…

…Doctors are seeing more patients coming down with the B strain of influenza, which annually causes illness through May. Of the 36 people hospitalized in Cuyahoga County the week of March 18, 24 tested positive for the B influenza strain, Stracklin said.

But the A strain is still circulating, too. Usually, one strain dominates early in the season with the other coming on late. “We’re still seeing a lot of influenza A,” Hanrahan said, adding that either strain can cause severe illness and death…

…In Lorain County, there have been 13 flu-related deaths since January. Numbers for the entire season were not available because Lorain County began tracking flu deaths at the beginning of the year, a spokeswoman said.

Lake County has seen nine flu-related deaths for the season. All the victims were over age 65, a spokeswoman said. Portage County reported one adult flu-related death for the flu season so far…

April 7, 2018: IndyStar posted an article titled: “Indiana flu deaths have nearly tripled to 304 this season”. It was written by Dwight Adams. From the article:

The number of deaths from flu in Indiana have nearly tripled from the previous flu season, state health officials said.

Three have been 304 influenza-associated deaths so far, according to the Indiana Department of Health in its latest report dated April 6, which tracks cases through Week 13 of the 2017-2018 flu season.

There were 103 flu deaths in Indiana in the 2016-17 flu season, according to state health data.

The majority of Indiana deaths – 226 – were among people aged 65 or older. There were three deaths among children 4 or younger and eight deaths of people aged 5-24.

Marion County had the second-highest number of laboratory-confirmed influenza deaths at 23. Hamilton County had 11 such deaths; Morgan County, 9; Johnson and Shelby counties 8; Boone County, 7; Hendricks and Madison counties, 5.

April 7, 2018: Gaston Gazette posted an article titled: “Flu Season not over in NC”. It was written by Larry Penkava. From the article:

Another round of flu could be running its course in North Carolina…

…”We’re seeing a resurgence now, mostly influenza B,” said Susan Hayes, director of the Randolph County Health Department. “The flu peaked from early- to mid-February. Now we’re into another peak, but that’s not uncommon.”

North Carolina flu statistics are based on viral testing at the state lab as well as hospital labs. During Week 13, there were a total of 1,568 samples tested with 319 testing positive for influenza. Of those, 204 tested for influenza B and 115 for one of the forms of influenza A.

“The results are improved from February,” Hayes said, but there remained a handful of deaths attributed to the flu. North Carolina reports 348 deaths for the season…

April 7, 2018: News.com.au posted an article titled: “Tas kids get free flu shot before winter”. From the article:

Tasmanian children under the age of five will be eligible to receive free flu vaccinations before winter.

The shots, available at GPs from April, will cover four strains of the virus and children who have never had a flu vaccination need two doses, one month apart…

April 8, 2018: The Age posted an article titled: “Free flu shots for children to be offered from May”. It was written by Clay Lucas. From the article:

Children aged between six months and five years will be eligible for free flu shots from May, under a plan to fight the illness launched by the Victorian government.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the plan, which will cost $3.5 million, meant children, people over 65 and a small group of others would be eligible for free flu shots.

Shots can cost anywhere between $10 and $40 if not done at a health service offering them for free.

Ms. Hennessy and Premier Daniel Andrews were at the Royal Children’s Hospital on Sunday, also announcing extra funding for more beds and staff during this year’s flu season.

Victoria experienced one if its worst flu seasons last year, with more than 48,000 confirmed cases and record numbers of people presenting at hospital emergency departments.

At least 149 people in aged care died of the flu last year, and high-profile cases involving younger people included eight-year-old Rosie Andersen – whose death prompted calls to make the flu vaccine free for children.

In Australia, free vaccines are offered to people aged 65 and over, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women, and those who suffer from chronic conditions….

April 8, 2018: My Statesman (from Austin American-Statesman) posted an article titled: “Flu season is Travis County’s deadliest on Record, data shows”. It was written by Katie Hall. From the article:

This has been the deadliest flu season by far since county officials first began tracking flu deaths in 2009…

…According to health experts’ estimates, tens of thousands in Texas – and millions across the country – fell ill this flu season. In Travis County, it has been the deadliest season since health officials started tracking flu statistics in 2009.

So far, influenza and pneumonia have claimed the lives of over 6,800 Texans this flu season. That number is expected to rise as health officials continue to process death certificate data, through influenza activity has decreased significantly in Travis County and throughout the United States after peaking in January and February. Flu season can last as late as May, Austin Public Health officials said…

…In Travis County, 49 people have died from the flu this season. None of those flu deaths in the county were of children, and more than half the victims were 80 years or older, according to Austin Public Health data…

…Before this season, the previous record for flu deaths was set in the 2013-14 season, when a total of 22 Travis County residents died…

April 8, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 13 ending March 31, 2018”. From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season. Since early March, influenza B viruses have been more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remains elevated.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Five influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 99.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.4%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. Seven of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Two states experienced high ILI activity; eight states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City and 12 states experienced low ILI activity; and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 28 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in 11 states was reported as widespread; Guam, Puerto Rico and 26 states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and 10 states reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands and three states reported sporadic activity.
  • Widespread influenza activity was reported by 11 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin).
  • Regional influenza activity was reported by Guam, Puerto Rico, and 26 states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming).
  • Local influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia and 10 states (Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and West Virginia).
  • Sporadic influenza activity was reported by the U.S. Virgin Islands and three states (Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi).

April 9, 2018: News Channel 3 posted an article titled: “Bartlett teen dies after weeks of battling flu, pneumonia” It was written by David Royer and Luke Jones. From the article:

Memphis Tenn. – A Bartlett teenager who ended up in a fight for his life after coming down with the flu has died, according to his father.

Caleb Davis died at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital just before 3 a.m. Saturday after 52 days of illness, according to a post on a social media page dedicated to him. He was 16…

…Davis came down with the flu February 12 and ended up in a hospital emergency room just a couple of days later.

The flu soon turned into pneumonia, and Davis was placed on life support…

April 9, 2018: NZHerald.co.nz posted an article titled: “Flu vaccine’s here but sickest patients should hold off getting the shot”. It was written by Dubby Henry. From the article:

A vaccine to fight this season’s set of deadly influenza strains has arrived in New Zealand- but people with poor immune systems should wait as long as possible before getting their shots.

The vaccine arrived in New Zealand in late March for the private market but national suppliers are still distributing it to general practices around the country, Associate Professor Nikki Turner, director of the Immunization Advisory Centre (IMAC), said…

…”The flu season normally starts in June or July but you need to get it two weeks before that for immunity, so [people] should get it any time in the next two months,” Turner said.

However, Turner cautioned that people with weaker immune systems might benefit from delaying their visit till May.

That’s because they have a weaker response to vaccines, and the effect could wear off before flu season hits…

April 9, 2018: VC Star (part of the USA Today network) posted an article titled: “Coroner says flu played only secondary role in teen’s death”. It was written by Tom Kisken. From the article:

Flu likely contributed to the sudden Feb. 8 death of a 14-year-old Simi Valley girl, but a second virus played a larger role in the tragedy, Ventura County’s medical examiner said Monday.

Gabriella Chabot, a ninth-grader at La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks, left school early on Feb. 8 because of an illness she had been fighting for about two weeks and that her family linked to a flu diagnosis.

The girl said she wasn’t feeling well and thought sleeping would help.

Her mother found her later in bed, unconscious and not breathing. She died later the same day at Adventist Health Simi Valley hospital.

An autopsy was preformed the day after the death by Dr. Othon Mean, assistant chief medical examiner for Ventura County.

A battery of medical tests was preformed at a California Department of Public Health lab that showed the death was caused by a condition called viral myocarditis that damages the heart suddenly through inflammation, said Dr. Christopher Young, Ventura County’s chief medical examiner.

A virus other than the flu triggered the inflammation, he said.

The culprit appears to be enterovirus, a category of illnesses with respiratory symptoms that can include fever, cold-like symptoms and muscle aches. Young said viral myocarditis is often linked to an enterovirus called Coxscakie B but said the lab tests di not identify the specific enterovirus involved with Gabriella’s death…

April 11, 2018: ABC News 10 posted an article titled: “Eight additional flu deaths reported in San Diego County”. From the article:

Eight more flu deaths were reported last week in the San Diego region, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

There were 264 lab-confirmed cases in total, a slight increase over the 257 cases reported the week of March 25. Emergency room visits by people with flu-like symptoms dropped from 3 percent to 2 percent over the same span, however.

Overall, there have been 335 influenza-related deaths in San Diego County this season, compared with 82 during the same period last flu season.

Victims have ranged in age from 1 to 101, and most had underlying medical conditions….

…The high number of deaths this season is related to unusually severe strains of the virus but also improved tracking by local medical communities, according to the county. Overall, there have been 20,404 lab-confirmed cases this season, compared to 5,292 cases this time last year….

April 11, 2018: ABC WMTW 8 posted an article titled: “Season slowing? No flu-related deaths reported in Maine for first time in months”. It was written by David Charns. From the article:

…The Maine Centers for Disease Control releases the weekly data on Wednesdays. For the week ending Sat., April 7, no deaths were reported.

The numbers of confirmed lab tests for flu was also down. The seasonal total for positive tests is above 8,000. The number only reflects people who went to a doctor to get tested…

April 11, 2018: The Inquirer posted an article titled: “For this family, the flu’s final gut punch was an $877 testing charge” It was written by Sarah Gantz.  From the article:

Vince Amalfitano isn’t one to rush to the doctor’s office every time his kid sniffles. But when 12-year-old Christopher’s fever climbed past 102 and with nightly news horror stories of flu deaths swirling in his mind, the Montgomery County father decided it was time for a trip to the family pediatrician,

It turned out that Christopher did have the flu – the diagnosis was confirmed by a flu test ordered by the doctor. But the pharmacy was out of Tamiflu, the antiviral medication the doctor perspired, so Christopher rode out the bug with lots of fluids and bed rest.

Christopher was back to school and running around outside when the virus hit the family again – this time, in the wallet. Quest Diagnostics had billed the family’s insurance plan $887 for the flu test and the insurer had written down the charge to $400…

…The flu test Christopher received was called a respiratory viral panel, a newer product that tests for 12 to 20 flu-like illnesses. Doctors like it because it is often more accurate than the older rapid flu tests and more effective in finding out what’s wrong with a patient, if not the flu. But testing for more than a dozen different illnesses makes these tests more expensive, and, for many patients, may not make a significant difference in their treatment. After all, the recommendation for most flu patients who are not at risk of complications is extra rest and increased fluids…

April 11, 2018: ABC 13 WSET posted an article titled: “Trial ongoing for new avian flu strain”. From the article:

We may finally be out of the flu season — but researchers already have their eyes on protecting you from a new strain that’s out there in the future.

It’s called H7N9. It’s an avian flu — where people get the flu from poultry — now spreading in Asian countries. Nearly four out of ten people who get it from poultry — will die from it.

Now the National Institutes of Health has launched a high priority trial. So this team is now one of several sites across the country – testing a new vaccine to potentially stockpile and protect against it.

What’s interesting here is that infectious disease researcher Dr. Paul Spearman said they are looking for patients who did NOT get the vaccine this year because it might interfere with the bird flu vaccine…

…As part of the trial, you are actually given both of them to make sure one doesn’t cancel out the other…

April 11, 2018: New Hampshire Union Leader posted an article titled: “This flu season in NH most deadly in 20 years”. It was written by Paul Feely. From the article:

More deaths have been attributed to influenza in New Hampshire this flu season than at any time in the last two decades, according to new data released this week by state health officials.

Fifty-five people in the state have died of the flu or flu-related complications so far this flu season, according to the latest Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report, released Wednesday by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. All of the flu victims who have died in New Hampshire this season have been adults.

Last year, two of the 47 victims who died were children. In the 2014-15 flu season, the state saw 49 influenza-related deaths, all adults.

The 55 adult deaths in New Hampshire have been spread among all 10 counties. The figures were through March 31, according to state health officials…

April 11, 2018: SBS News posted an article titled: “Doctors urge to get flu jab early to protect against ‘Brisbane'”. It was written by Abbie O’Brien. From the article:

As Australia braces for another severe flu season, medical experts are urging people to get their flu jab before the beginning of May.

In line with a recommendation from the World Health Organization, the 2018 vaccination will offer protection for the Brisbane flu.

The B strain form of influenza, first detected in the Queensland capital in 2008, is now recognized as one of the most dangerous in the world.

Australian Medical Association resident Dr Michael Gannon says The WHO advice follows extensive research…

…President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Queensland Branch Professor Trent Twomey says there are two different types of flu vaccinations.

Only one of the two, he warns, protects against the Brisbane virus, as well as three other strains, including two A and another B.

“There’s the trivalent and the quadrivalent, and what we are saying is for those people, specifically in Brisbane but also in people that are worried about that particular B strain virus, to make sure they get the quadrivalent as opposed to the trivalent flu vaccination,” he told SBS News.

In 2017, more than 56,000 cases of influenza were diagnosed in Queensland, making it one of the state’s worst seasons on record, with 2961 cases alone between January 1 and April 1.

But statistics show that this year, 3242 people have already been struck by the bug – almost 300 more than this time last year, making it the busiest start to a year since 2008…

April 15, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 14 ending April 7, 2018”. From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season. Since early March, influenza B viruses have been more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • There proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Nine influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 101.6 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) was 2.1%, which is below the national baseline of 2.2%. Six of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Two states experienced high ILI activity; two states experienced moderate ILI activity; 11 states experienced low ILI activity; two states experienced moderate ILI activity; 11 states experienced low ILI activity; and New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 35 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in seven states was reported as widespread; Guam, Puerto Rico and 22 states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and 16 other states reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands and five states reported sporadic activity.
  • Two states experienced high ILI activity (Alaska and Arizona)
  • Two states experienced moderate ILI activity (Nebraska and Virginia)
  • Eleven states experienced low ILI activity (Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Vermont.)
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 35 states experienced minimal ILI activity (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

April 16, 2018: NBC Connecticut posted an article titled: “7 More Flu-Related Deaths Reported as Connecticut Sees Another Spike in Illnesses”. From the article:

Public health officials in Connecticut say there has been another spike in flu-related illnesses and hospitalizations and seven more deaths have been reported in a week.

The Department of Public Health said in a statement released Thursday that influenza activity is past peak in Connecticut, but an increase in over the past several weeks of influenza B viruses have been causing a “second wave” of the flu that already hit the state hard…

…The department recorded 138 flu-related deaths this season, as of April 7, up from 131 the week before the release was issued. The number of deaths is the highest it’s been in five years.

So far, nearly 10,300 people have tested positive for flu in the state.

The department says more than 3,000 people have been hospitalized.

April 20, 2018: WNDU 16 posted an article titled: “Three more Hoosiers killed by the flu” From the article:

Another three people in Indiana have died as a result of the flu, and one of them was in St. Joseph County.

The season’s total number of deaths is now 315, according to the most recent report from the State Department of Health. At this time last year, the flu had killed 87 people.

The most recent presort shows that St. Joseph County has now suffered 10 deaths from the flu. Elkhart County has suffered seven deaths and LaPorte has seen five.

There have been 233 flu deaths among people 65 and older. There were three deaths of children 4 or younger. Among those aged 5-24, there were eight deaths; 52 deaths in people 50-64; and 19 deaths among those aged 25-49…

April 22, 2018: Nature posted an article titled: “Flu virus finally sequenced in its native form” It was written by Ewen Callaway. From the article:

The genome if the flu virus has been fully sequenced in its native RNA form for the first time. Previously, all influenza genomes – as well as those of other viruses that store their genetic material as RNA – had been determined by copying the molecule into DNA. The native flu genome was generated using ‘nanopore’ sequencing technology, which reads RNA strands as they stream through a tiny molecular channel…

…Nanpores offer a simpler way of sequencing actual RNA molecules, such as viral genomes. The technology is based on applying electrical current across a nanoscale molecular pore, and then measuring tell-take current fluctuations as genetic material snakes through…

…Although the methods aren’t yet perfect, [Ewan] Birney [a bioinformatician and co-director of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, UK] says, biologists are still excited about the possibility of soon being able to sequence entire viral genomes and other RNA molecules in their natural forms…

April 22, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 15 ending April 14, 2018”. From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season, Since early March, influenza B viruses have been more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of the deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Five influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 103.7 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 1.8%, which is below the national baseline of 2.2%. One of 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level. One state experienced high ILI activity; two states experienced moderate ILI activity; six states experienced low ILI activity; and New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 41 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread in five states was reported as widespread; Guam, Puerto Rico and 16 states reported regional activity; 21 states reported local activity; the District of Columbia and six states reported sporadic activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands and two states reported no influenza activity.
  • One state experienced high ILI activity (Arizona).
  • Two states experienced moderate ILI activity (Alaska and South Dakota).
  • Six states experienced low ILI activity (Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Virginia).
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 41 states experienced minimal ILI activity (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming).

April 25, 2018: The San Diego Union-Tribune posted an article titled: “Flu update: Season nearly over”. It was written by Paul Sisson. From the article:

With flu activity slumping, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday that it will make its final weekly influenza update on May 2.

The public health department typically stops regular updates in the spring and resumes in the fall when new seasonal flu vaccine doses become widely available to the public.

Last week, the county received reports of only 101 new cases, according to this week’s report. There were two new deaths reported, pushing the total for the season to 341. Only 1 percent of hospital emergency department patients showed flu-like symptoms, the lowest ratio since mid-November.

Nationwide, flu activity has returned to normal in most regions, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To date, San Diego County has recorded 20,661 confirmed flu cases this season, nearly four times as many as were reported during the same period during the 2016-2017 influenza year. The county’s 101 cases reported by local health care providers and labs last week represent just 3 percent of 3,349 cases confirmed during the last week of December, when flu activity peaked. The fortnight from Dec. 24 through Jan. 6 tallied more than 5,000 cases and more than 100 deaths, according to county records…

April 26, 2018: The Chicago Tribune posted an article titled: “Carpentersville 5-year-old dies of flu complications: ‘She was the most loving beautiful girl'” From the article:

A 5-year-old Carpentersville girl who died from flu-related complications Saturday was described as “an angel” who loved being playful and taking selfies, family and friends said.

Mia Lobo was the ninth flu-related death of someone 18 or younger in Illinois this season, officials said…

…Mia had just celebrated her 5th birthday days before she developed a fever, her father said. When that led to seizures, he and his wife took her to the emergency room at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin but she was released when she had no other complications, her parents said.

The next day, Mia still had a fever and couldn’t eat, Lobo said. When she collapsed, the couple took her back to Sherman Hospital, where the doctors decided to move her to Advocate Lutheran’s Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge. During her transfer, she suffered another seizure, her father said.

Mia had contracted the H1N1 flu strain, and complications from ti require her to use a ventilator and nasogastric tube. After days at the children’s hospital, irreversible damage had been done to the brain by the virus and it ultimately stopped blood flow to the brain, Lobo said. With the family’s permission, doctors took her off life support Saturday…

…Mia is the first recorded flu death of a minor in Kane County during the 2017-18 flu season, Kane County Health spokesman Tom Schlueter said. Department officials could not recall the last time there was a pediatric flu death prior to hers, Schlueter said…

April 26, 2018: Fox 9 posted an article titled “4 cases of canine influenza confirmed in Minnesota” From the article:

There have been four confirmed cases of influenza in Minnesota in the last weeks, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Three cases were reported in Carver County and one case in Kandiyohi County.

Canine influenza is a contagious respiratory diseases in dogs caused by Type A influenza virus. There are two different strains of influenza A virus, H3N8 and H3N2, which are currently circulating in dog populations in the United States, according to the Board of Animal Hearth…

…No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported…

April 27, 2018: Quartz posted an article titled: “Bill Gates is donating $12 million to help develop a universal flu vaccine” It was written by Katherine Ellen Foley. From the article:

…”Given the continual emergence of new pathogens, the increasing risk of a bio-terror attack, and how connected our world is through air travel, there is a significant probability of a large and lethal, modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes,” Bill Gates said today (April 27) the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Medical Society in Boston.

To combat these threats, Gates announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with Lucy and Larry Page (the chief executive of Alphabet) to establish a $12 million fund for researchers working on a universal flu vaccine.

The announcement takes place 100 years after the deadly 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which killed 50 million people around the globe. In the US, this flu killed 675,000 people in the first five weeks after it reached our shores. An outbreak of the same scale today, Gates said, would kill an estimated 30 million in six months…

…The Gates Foundation is also already working towards a universal flu vaccine in partnership with other organizations including the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, GlaxoSmithKline, and PATH, a global health nonprofit. So far, these efforts have not led to a breakthrough yet, although there are some clinical trials expected to begin soon…

April 26, 2018: WPRI.com Channel 12 posted an article titled: “Flu no longer widespread in RI” It was written by Jacob Spencer. From the article:

The Rhode Island Department of Health alerted healthcare providers Wednesday that the flu is no longer widespread in Rhode Island.

According to the health department, healthcare workers who have not been immunized against the flu are no longer required to wear surgical masks during direct patient contact.

On Jan. 3, the flu had been declared widespread throughout the state. “Widespread” is the highest tier in the five-tier system that the health department uses to categorize flu activity in the state…

April 29, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 16 ending April 21, 2018”. From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A (H3) viruses have predominated this season. Since early March, influenza B viruses have been more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Three influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 106.0 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 1.5%, which is below the national baseline of 2.2%. One of 10 regions reported ILI at above their region-specific baseline level. Two states experienced low ILI activity; and New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 48 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in three states was reported as widespread; Guam, Puerto Rico, and seven states reported regional activity; 24 states reported local activity; the District of Columbia, and 14 states reported sporadic activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands and two states reported no influenza activity.
  • Two states experienced low ILI activity (Alaska and Arizona).
  • New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 48 states experienced minimal ILI activity (Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).

April 30, 2018: News Channel 3 WREG posted an article titled: “Doctors forced to amputate woman’s leg after complications from the flu” From the article:

An Indiana woman is in the hospital recovering from severe flu complications which included a leg amputation.

Shari Hall was diagnosed with bronchitis in February. Hall’s sister-in-law, Kellie Lannon, told WXIN Hall’s symptoms started to get worse from there…

…Hall went to the ER on Friday. By Saturday morning, she was on life support. She wasn’t taken off it for more than one week.

Her family was told she had the flu. Due to her being on life support for so long, she developed severe complications and had to have her left leg amputated.

“Her feet and toes started dying,” Lannon said. “Then (she) got an infection in the left foot and they had to take the leg just about the knee.”

Hall is on a ventilator, awake and moving, but she isn’t able to speak just yet. She might even have to have her right toes and foot amputated, plus one finger on her left hand…

…It’s no longer peak flu season, so some doctors offices and hospitals are out of the flu shot. Most flu vaccines expire June 30th. Next year’s flu vaccine is already being made…

April 30, 2018: USA Today posted an article titled: “Harsh flu season winding down, but it left its mark: Highest child death count in at least 5 years” It was written by Kim Painter. From the article:

A brutal flu season is finally on its last legs, but it has taken a heavy toll, including the highest dealt count among children in at least five years, health officials say.

Low levels of “flu-like illnesses” are still popping up in a few spots, according to the latest report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the coast-to-coast epidemic of midwinter is history.

“We never officially declare flu season over… there’s always flu circulating, even in the summer,” said Lynnette Brammer, head of domestic influenza surveillance at CDC. But, she said, the flu has done most of its nasty work – for now.

The CDC has previously estimated that a severe flu season can kill up to 56,000 people, hospitalize up to 710,000 and sicken up to 35 million. This season “may have been worse than that,” Brammer said. She said the agency will have to do some more number crunching to know for sure…

May 4, 2018: Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an article titled “Southern Nevada flu death toll hits 57; some were vaccinated” It was written by Jessie Bekker. From the article:

Nearly one-quarter of the 57 Southern Nevadans who died of the flu during the current season were vaccinated, the Southern Nevada Health District said Friday, as it raised the local death toll by nine from just two weeks ago.

The majority of victims were older than 65, a group especially at risk of developing such flu-related complications as pneumonia, according to the health district. Still, six were under 50, including a 12-year-old boy, a 24-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man, all from Las Vegas.

The 22.8 percent who died despite receiving the flu vaccine demonstrates how virulent this year’s H3N2 strain was, said Dr. Michael Johnson, the district’s director of community health…

May 4, 2018: National Institutes of Health posted a news release titled: “NIAID-Sponsored Trial of a Universal Influenza Vaccine Begins” From the article:

A Phase 2 clinical trial of an investigational universal influenza vaccine intended to protect against multiple strains of the virus has begun in the United States. The study is sponsored by the National Institutes of Heath, and is being conducted at four U.S. sites that are part of the NIAID-funded Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unites (VTEUs). The trial is testing an experimental vaccine called M-001 for safety and its ability to produce potentially broad protective immune responses, both on its own and when followed by a standard, licenses seasonal influenza virus…

…The new trial is being led by principal investigator Robert L. Atmar, M.D., of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The trial will test the M-001 vaccine candidate, developed and produced by BiondVax Pharmaceuticals based in Ness Ziona, Israel. The experimental M-001 vaccine contains antigenic peptide sequences shared among many different influenza viruses. Theoretically, it could protect against many current and emerging strains of influenza. Six previous clinical trials involving a total of 698 participants conducted by BiondVax in Israel and Europe indicated that the vaccine candidate was safe, well-tolerated and produced an immune response to a broad range of influenza strains.

The new study will enroll up to 120 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 of 49 years. Participants will be assigned randomly to receive either two doses of the experimental vaccine or a placebo. They will be vaccinated twice, receiving one dose (1 mg; 0.4 millimeters) of M-001 or placebo via intramuscular injection on the first day and a second dose 22 days later. Approximately 172 days later, all participants will receive an approved seasonal influenza vaccine. During periodic additional clinic visits throughout the course of the study, blood will be drawn from study volunteers to evaluate their immune responses to both the experimental vaccine and to the seasonal vaccine. Each participant will be followed for approximately seven months…

May 6, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 17 ending April 28, 2018”. From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season. Since early March, influenza B viruses have been more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Three influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 106.0 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 1.5%, which is below the national baseline of 2.2%. One of 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level. Two states experienced low ILI activity; and New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 48 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in three states was reported as widespread; Guam, Puerto Rico, and seven states reported regional activity; 24 states reported local activity; the District of Columbia, and 14 states reported sporadic activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands and two states reported no influenza activity.
  • Widespread influenza activity was reported by three states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York).
  • Regional influenza activity was reported by Guam, Puerto Rico, and seven states (Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, and Vermont).
  • Local influenza activity was reported by 24 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).
  • Sporadic influenza activity was reported bu the District of Columbia and 14 states (Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming).
  • No influenza activity was reported by the U.S. Virgin Islands and two states (Alabama and Mississippi).

May 7, 2018: The Horse posted an edited press release titled “New Equine Influenza Vaccine Could Help Protect People, Too” From the press release:

Scientists have developed a new live-attenuated vaccine to protect horses against equine influenza.

Luis Martinez-Sobrido, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in New York, said a new vaccine is not needed not only to keep horses healthy, but also to protect people in the future…

…Proactively preventing the spread of flu in animals is important, as animals are the most likely source of future human pandemics. Animals – including horses, pigs, and dogs – can be infected with multiple influenza viruses and have the potential to act as “mixing vessels”, generating new flu strains that could infect people, he said. This hasn’t happened yet, but it’s possible, he added and tase strains would be particularly dangerous, since people wouldn’t have pre-existing immunity….

…The researchers said a single spray of the vaccine protected mice and horses against the currently circulating H3N8 equine influenza virus. The horses tolerated the vaccine well, they said, and vaccination didn’t lead to any negative side effects, further, vaccinated horses showed no signs of disease when challenged with a natural equine influenza virus…

…The study was small, only involving six horses, but planning for a larger study was underway…

May 9. 2018: Across Oregon Patch posted an article titled: “Too Few Oregon Health Care Workers Get Flu Shots, Study Shows” From the article:

Influenza vaccination rates among Oregon health care workers continue a steady rise, but they still fall short of national immunization goals, a new state report shows.

While health care worker flu vaccination rates have grown more than 40 percent between the 2011-2012 and 2016-2017 flu seasons, the 2016-2017 season’s overall rate of 73 percent is just below the national Healthy People 2015 goal of a 75 percent flu vaccination rate. And it is far short of the Healthy People 2020 goal of 90 percent, according to the Oregon Health Care worker Influenza Vaccination Annual Report: 2016-2017 Season.

The report was published this week by the Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section at the Oregon Health Authority Public Heath Division…

May 9, 2018: KIVITV.com posted an article titled: “Some 130 students reported sick at Meridian elementary school” It was written by Steve Bertel. From the article:

Over 130 students at Meridian’s Prospect Elementary School have reported suffering from what Central District Health officials are calling “a viral respiratory illness.”

On Thursday May 3rd, principal Michelle Store sent a notice to parents and guardians reporting the school was experiencing “a significant increase in illness”.

“The most common symptoms include a fever, headache, sore throat, and/or stomach ache. The custodial staff will be doing additional disinfecting procedures…We have bene in contact with the health department and physicians in the area, and they have not identified any specific virus at this time,” Storey wrote…

…The disinfecting procedure started Thursday evening. Crews were still cleaning areas of the school Tuesday…

…Staff members have also been hit by the illness. Three staff members called in sick Tuesday, officials said.

May 10, 2018: Oklahoma’s News 4 posted an article titled: “Officials: 285 Oklahomans died from the flu this season” It was written by KFOR-TV and K. Querry.  From the article:

New data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that hundreds of Oklahomans lost their lives to the flu virus this season.

So far this year, officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say that 285 people have died from the flu since September. Fortunately, none of those deaths occurred within the last week.

Also, health experts say 2 people had to be hospitalized within the last week due to the flu virus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 4,737 this season…

…Health reports state that almost all of the patients who died from the virus were over the age of 50.

Data shows that 26 of those who died from the flu were between the ages of 18-years-old and 49-years-old. Health officials also say a child under the age of 4-years-old died from the virus, and one child between the ages of 5-years-old and 17-years-old also died from the flu…

May 10, 2018: The Conversation posted an article titled: “Here’s why flu vaccinations should be mandatory for Aussie health workers in high risk areas” It was written by C. Raina MacIntyre an Holly Seale.  From the article:

On June 1, health workers in New South Wales will be required to have a flu vaccination if they work in high-risk clinical areas, such as wars for neonatal care, transplants, and cancer. Otherwise staff are required to wear surgical masks during the flu season or risk being redeployed.

NSW is the only state to make flu vaccination mandatory for some health workers. It aims to protect vulnerable patients and the health system from another disastrous flu season like in 2017. While the federal government has told aged care providers they must offer the flu vaccine to their staff this winter, there is no requirement for the staff to accept the vaccine…

…The most effective way to improve vaccination rates among health workers is to make it mandatory. State, territory, Commonwealth governments should consider making the flu shot mandatory for all health workers in high-risk clinical areas and aged care facilities…

May 11, 2018: The Hill posted an article titled “Senators urge Trump to support universal flu vaccine bill”. The article was written by Rachel Roubein. From the article:

Seven senators are calling on President Trump to support their legislation that would provide a $1 billion boost for research to create a universal flu vaccine.

Six Democrats and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) called the seasonal flu a “pressing public health threat, taking a substantial toll on our families, health care system, and economy each year” in a letter sent to Trump.

They wrote that they appreciated that Trump had reportedly expressed “strong interest” in the development of a universal vaccine…”

May 11. 2018: LasVegasNow posted an article titled “Flu deaths for Southern Nevada reaches 59” It was written by Nikki Bowers. From the article:

The number of reported deaths in Clark County this flu season has been updated to 59, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

The health district says the majority of those deaths, 53, occurred in people between the ages of 50-65 years or older…

May 12, 2018: QCostaRica posted an article titled: “Caja To Start Annual Massive Flu Vaccination In June”. From the article:

The national flu vaccination campaign will start next month, with the goal of protecting 1.3 million people against the virus that causes the flu. The Caja Costrarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) will invest US$7 million in the purchase of new doses.

The massive vaccination is aimed at at-risk groups such as the pregnant women, the elderly, diabetic, obese, heart disease and children between six months and five years.

The massive vaccination every year is linked to the start of the rainy season, when serious acute infections rebound…

May 13, 2018: CT Post posted an article titled “Flu activity in state no longer ‘widespread'” It was written by Amanda Cuda. From the article:

Though people continue to get sick and die from the flu in Connecticut, the state Department of Public Health reports that flu activity in the state has been downgraded, from “widespread” to “regional”.

Regional flu activity means that there continues to be outbreaks of influenza or elevated levels flu-like illnesses and recent lab-comfirmed influenza in at least two, but less than half the regions of the state. That is the second-highest level of flu activity, after “widespread.”…

…The state also reported that there were three new flu-associated deaths the week ending May 5, the latest date for which numbers were available. That brings the state’s total number of flu-related deaths this season to 150. That is the highest number in roughly five seasons, and those who have died from the illness include three children younger than 18…

May 13, 2018: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted “FluView 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 18 ending May 5, 2018”. From the FluView:

  • Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season. Since early March, influenza B viruses have been more frequently reported than influenza A viruses. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories decreased.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • A cumulative rate of 106.5 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 1.5%, which is below the national baseline of 2.2%. One of 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level. Puerto Rico and one state experienced low ILI activity; and New York City, the District of Columbia, and 49 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in three states was reported as widespread; Guam, Puerto Rico and four states reported regional activity; 16 states reported local activity; the District of Columbia, and 25 states reported sporadic activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands and two states reported no influenza activity.
  • Widespread activity was reported by three states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York).
  • Regional influenza activity was reported by Guam, Puerto Rico and four states (Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey, and Utah).
  • Local influenza activity was reported in 16 states (Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).
  • Sporadic influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia and 25 states (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming).
  • No influenza activity was reported by the U.S. Virgin Islands and two states (Alabama and Mississippi).

May 14, 2018: Channel News Asia posted an article titled: “Dog flu hits animal establishments in Pasir Ris Farmway area”. From the article:

Cases of canine influenza have hit animal establishments in the Pasir Ris Farmway area, according to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

In a Facebook post on Monday (May 14), the authority said it received reports of “kennel cough” among dogs in the area and started investigating.

“Samples collected from affected dogs have been found to be positive for canine influenza virus,” said AVA.

“We are advising animal establishments within the area to seek veterinary treatment for their dogs, and practice good hygiene and biosecurity measures to limit the spread of the virus.”…

May 14, 2018: Democrat & Chronicle posted an article titled: “Flu may linger, but official tracking of 2017-2018 season ends with 7,357 cases, 19 deaths” It was written by Patti Singer. From the article:

The 2017-18 flu season is officially over, and it’s good riddance.

More people died from the flu than in each of the previous two seasons, and more were hospitalized than in the previous two years combined, according to data from the Monroe County Department of Public Health…

…Flu is tracked from October through April. For this season, 19 people in Monroe County died from flu-related illnesses and 1,327 ended up in the hospital.

The county had 7,357 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu. The overall number was higher because not all people with the flu seek medical care, and not everyone showing up with symptoms is tested for flu.

There had been 104 new cases between April 21 and April 28. A few more cases could be recorded in this memorable season, but official tracking ended April 28.

Flu was its most rampant self from mid-January to mid-February. It started to decline in mid-March, then spiked in the last week of March before a slow decline in early April…

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Things to Know About the 2017 – 2018 Flu Season is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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