What Is The Flu
In order to discuss why we have a flu season, we must first understand what the flu is. The flu, also called influenza, is a viral respiratory illness. A virus is a microscopic infectious agent that invades the cells of your body and makes you sick. The flu is often confused with another virus, the common cold, because of the similarity in symptoms, which can include a cough, sore throat, and stuffy nose. However, flu symptoms also include fever, cold sweats, aches throughout the body, headache, exhaustion, and even some gastro-intestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea .
The flu is highly contagious. Adults are able to spread the virus one day prior to the appearance of symptoms and up to seven days after symptoms begin. Influenza is typically spread via the coughs and sneezes of an infected person . Around 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year because of the flu, and of these people, about 36,000 die. The flu is most serious for the elderly, the very young, or people who have a weakened immune system .
Who Is Most Likely To Get The Flu
No matter what age they are, anyone can get the flu. However, some age groups are more susceptible to the flu than others.
Astudy conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018 found that children were the most likely to get sick with influenza, with approximately 9.3 percent of children becoming sick with the flu in any given year.
The likelihood of becoming sick from the flu decreases with age, with approximately 8.9 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 getting sick and 3.9 percent of adults ages 65 and older becoming ill.
These percentages do not take into account the number of people who become ill but do not exhibit symptoms rather, they reflect those who develop a symptomatic flu infection.
Although older adults are less likely to develop the flu, they may be more likely to develop complications of the illness and may be sicker for longer than children.
How Do I Know If I Have The Flu
The flu season typically coincides with the peak season for other common respiratory viruses due to the favorable environment created by colder temperatures. The viruses like the common cold, and respiratory syncytial virus cause symptoms that may mimic the flu, it can be challenging to know whether you actually have the flu or if you are sick with a different type of virus, because, each person experiences the flu differently, so you may not exhibit these symptoms.
If you or a loved one starts to feel very ill during flu season or at any time of year, its recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider about your illness. RSV is the most common cause of severe respiratory illness in young children, including infants, and can be life-threatening in people ages 65 and older.
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The Reasons Behind The Surge
According to experts, three primary factors have been driving the rapid rise in cases.
Even as we move away from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects continue to make themselves known.
COVID-19 restrictions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, significantly reduced viral transmission.
Kessler told Healthline, annual exposure helps prime our immune systems to either prevent or attenuate these infections each year.
COVID-19 measures prevented exposure, and this likely had the unintended effect of increasing many individuals susceptibility to infection and illness, he added.
With COVID-19 mitigation measures lifted, the seasonal flu is once again spreading.
Additionally, with few flu cases during the pandemic, the virus has had a long time to mutate, Dr. Shruti Gohil, associate medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at UCI Health. said. And, in the face of our lower immunity, this allowed it to hit harder.
Bosses Have To Encourage Sick Days And Really Mean It
The most impactful thing employers can do to keep their workforces healthy is to provide paid sick leave so people can stay home when they need to. But roughly 1 in 5 workers doesn’t have access to paid sick days, and it’s an even bigger problem for low-wage workers.
And while providing sick leave is one thing, it’s also important for bosses to take sick time for themselves and proactively encourage their team to do the same.
Walsh says that if you’re a manager,tactfully nudging your employee to go home doesn’t have to be awkward. Stick with simple questions: How are you doing? How are you feeling? I noticed you were sniffling a little bit in our last meeting how’s it going?
If someone seems reticent to take a break, “it’s helpful to uncover the barriers to that person taking time off,” Walsh says. As a manager, see if there’s something you can do to reduce their workload or redistribute work among team members.
For junior employees, be explicit about when workers can and should take their sick or PTO days, especially if you have unlimited policies. “Newer associates who’ve entered the workforce during the pandemic really have no idea the norms of when it’s OK to take time off,” Walsh says.
Underlying all of this is the need for psychological safety, she adds: “At the end of the day, workers have to know they’re not going to be penalized for taking time off.”
“At end of the day,” even if she takes a break, “the work is going to get done.”
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Flu Vaccine And Covid
Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time if you are eligible and the timing coincides.
Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine: If you havent gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
Why Flu Season Started So Early This Year
- Cases of flu are rising rapidly, particularly in southern and eastern states.
- Reasons for the fast spread include reduced immunity, low vaccination uptake and an end to COVID-19 mitigation measures.
- The flu shot continues to provide the best protection against the virus.
This years flu season is already showing signs that we could see an extremely high number of cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that in October alone at least 1.6 million individuals in the US had the flu, while a minimum 13,000 cases resulted in hospital admissions. A total of 730 deaths were also recorded, Two of which were children.
Were still months away from the estimated
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Truth #: Anyone Can Get The Flu Even Young Healthy People
While some people are at a higher risk than others of complications due to the flu, anyone can get the flu. The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months and older, with some rare exceptions. The CDC recommends that even pregnant women and people with certain chronic conditions get vaccinated against the flu.
The flu vaccine protects you from getting sick with flu and reduces the severity of your symptoms if you do get sick. Getting vaccinated against the flu also protects those around you, especially people who are more likely to get severely ill or experience complications. Children under the age of 2 and adults over the age of 65 are the most vulnerable groups.
Don’t Forget A Flu Vaccine This Season
Flu activity was kept low last season because of vaccination, social distancing, masking, school closures and limited travel. Now that pandemic restrictions are lifting, flu has a much higher chance of spreading. We can all do our part to prevent illness and hospitalizations caused by flu by getting vaccinated.
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How This Year Compares To Others
Flu-like illnesses and flu test positivity rates are higher this year compared to similar time periods in prior years, stated Gohil.
However, its not just the US seeing the earlier wave of infections. Influenza hit 2 months earlier in Australia, Gohil said, while Chile also experienced the same pattern.
The number of hospitalized individuals is also notably elevated compared to this time in previous years. The CDC reported that the cumulative hospitalization rateis higher than the rate observed in week 43 during every previous season since 2010-2011.
That said, it is the same population being admitted to hospital. As with previous years, hospitalizations have been highest in the elderly and the very young , Gohil shared.
For children, a less well-developed immune system is likely the reason for this, she continued. Meanwhile, elderly patients have a weakened immune system associated with aging.
Bird Flu: Immunity Is Hope
Thousands of seabirds have died in the past breeding season. An ornithologist explains why he hopes the die-off will stop next early summer. He has clues for a little hope.
Wolfgang Fiedler is an ornithologist at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Radolfzell.
He has been researching the migratory behavior of wild birds for years – and its consequences.
Avian flu is often an issue, because the pathogen is widely spread in autumn with geese, ducks and other birds migrating from the north-east across Germany to the south.
The unusually long-lasting wave of infections last year surprised him.
He explains why there is also a spark of hope in it.
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In the summer, empty nests of gannets and dead terns have caused a stir.
Bird flu had struck.
What is the current situation?
Wild birds are quieter at the moment, there is currently no major outbreak inland.
The epidemic has also abated somewhat on the North Sea coast.
But it is estimated that thousands of seabirds have died, the outbreak was stronger than the previous worst outbreaks in 2005/2006 and 2015/2016.
And with the terns, it also affected species that had previously hardly been infected in northern Europe.
The current wave of infections overshadows everything that has gone before.
Why is that?
It is probably passed on via ducks that hardly ever get sick.
Why are mallard ducks or their relatives possible vectors?
You don’t know.
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What Happened In The Past Two Years
The low number of flu cases in the past two years is often attributed to the implementation of preventive measures against COVID, such as masking and practicing social distancing.
Although those behaviors may have played an important role, other factors could be involved. According to epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the key to understanding why other respiratory viruses all but disappeared in 2020 and 2021 lies in how these viruses interact with each other.
Weve learned in the past that when you have a seasonal virus circulating, it may dampen the ability of other viral respiratory pathogens to take off, Osterholm says. One example of this phenomenon, known as viral interference, goes back to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, when almost no one was practicing social distancing or masking. Researchers believe that the circulation of a type of common cold virus called human rhinovirus in France may have delayed the H1N1 influenza epidemic in that country. Subsequently, H1N1 seems to have delayed the following local wave of the common virus known as respiratory syncytial virus .
Who Should Get A Flu Shot
Centers for Disease Control and Preventions vaccine experts are again this year recommending that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, the CDC notes its especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
- Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 5 years of age with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children younger than 6 months of age
- Health care workers
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The Reason For The Season: Why Flu Strikes In Winter
Did you get your flu shot? If your friends are anything like mine, you heard this question at least a dozen times before Thanksgiving. You probably got your fair share of disdainful looks too, if you answered No. But why are we worried about getting the flu shot now and not in May? Why is there a flu season at all? After all, what does a virus living in a host who provides a dependable, cozy incubation chamber of 98°F, care whether it is freezing and snowy outside or warm and sunny? This question has bothered people for a long time, but only recently have we begun to understand the answer.
Companies Ratchet Up Return To Office And Productivity Warnings
Fall bugs are coinciding with workers facing increasing pressure to be back in the office, says Caroline Walsh, vice president in the Gartner HR practice.
As of September, 36% of organizations required workers to be in the office at least three days a week, up from 25% in August, according to a Gartner survey of 240 HR leaders “even though our data shows working remotely, for those who can, does not negatively impact performance and culture,” Walsh says. Still, “there’s more pressure to get people in, and it’s hitting at the same time as cold and flu and RSV season.”
The same things we can do to prevent Covid are the same things that’ll prevent other respiratory tract infections.Dr. John Swartbergclinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health
Recession fears could also be making workers feel the need to show up sick. High inflation and a volatile stock market are putting stress on organizations and productivity, particularly as many try to close out the year in a shaky economy, and “there’s a temptation to push people to go all-in and work until they can’t anymore,” Walsh says.
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Facts About Flu Vaccinations
- The CDC recommends that all children above six months of age receive the flu vaccine annually.
- This vaccine is normally administered via a simple intravenous injection, but a nasal spray vaccination is currently being tested for widespread use.
- The flu vaccine should take approximately two weeks to begin protecting against influenza.
- If a person receives only one vaccination when he actually needs two, it may have no effect.
- Vaccinations must be performed at least four weeks apart from each other.
- Different flu vaccines are formulated to combat each strain of the flu virus.
- Every year, medical researchers determine which flu virus will be most prevalent during the upcoming flu season and provide that information to flu vaccine manufacturers.
Getting A Flu Vaccine During The Covid
Yes. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your familys health every year. Take recommended precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19 while getting your flu vaccine.
Yes. Wearing a mask and avoiding crowds and others who are sick can help protect you and others from respiratory viruses, like flu and the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the best way to reduce your risk of flu illness and its potentially serious complications is for everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine each year. By getting a flu vaccine, you may also be protecting people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.
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Flu Season Statistics Are Being Studied To Improve Population Health
Creating a historical record of the peak months of flu activity for each annual flu season is only one aspect of flu season statistics that are being studied. The CDC also operates a flu activity surveillance initiative that is called FluView. FluView is a weekly report that compiles flu activity data from medical institutions across the nation and processes that data into practical knowledge.
Some of the basic data presented in the FluView report shows approximately when and where influenza infections have been occurring frequently. The researchers also try to detect which strain of the virus is most prominent and whether that virus may be undergoing any changes or mutations. With this data on hand, the CDC can more effectively provide support to the groups of people who face the greatest risk of contracting a severe case of influenza.
Influenza reaches epidemic levels in the United States every year during flu season. Thankfully, organizations such as the CDC have compiled a large volume of evidence-based knowledge to help people safely persist through flu season. With these resources and modern medicine available, there is no reason to worry as flu season approaches this year.
Prevalence Of Other Flu
Another reason flu cases appear high, other diseases including respiratory syncytial virus are spreading widely and may be mistaken for the flu.
It is important to recognize that what is generally referred to as flu may not always be caused by the influenza virus, revealed Kessler.
Instead, he continued, they can be related to infection with several different viruses: influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus , parainfluenza virus, and SARS-CoV-2 , as well as others.
These viruses spread among the population in the same way and have many of the same symptoms such as fever, runny nose, coughing, and fatigue.
Unless a test is performed, it can be hard to distinguish between them.
A general increase in other viruses, such as RSV, is also likely due to the lifting of post-pandemic restrictions, added Arias, as we engage in closer contact with others while having reduced immunity.
that flu cases are currently high among populations in eastern states, such as New York, Virginia, and North Carolina.
This is not unsurprising, revealed Gohil, as in general, influenza infection usually moves east to west.
Arias explained this might be because the East Coast is faced with colder weather first, and viruses thrive in colder temperatures.
However, southern states such as Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia are also being hit hard by the flu.
Historically, these areas are
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