Flu Season 101

Flu Season 101 (2013)

Flu is a viral contagious infection that affects respiratory system; nose, throat, and lungs. Some of the symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. In some cases vomiting and diarrhea can occur (CDC, 2013). The flu can present in various forms from mild to severe on the immunity of the individual. Children and the elderly are more predisposed to getting the extreme from of the flu.  The flu season for 2013 is already half way over, but just starting to affect people in the West Coast, and may linger since it started late. The CDC reported the spread of the flu to 48 states and 29 pediatric deaths, and increased hospitalizations among seniors.

Who is At Risk for Flu-Related Complications?

  • Children younger than 5 years of age and more serous in children younger than 2 years old.
  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with compromised immunity (HIV/AIDS, Patients on chemotherapy, and other debilitating illnesses).
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

Other medical conditions are:

  • Asthma
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions (spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, and mental retardation).
  • Heart disease such as congestive heart failure, congenital heart disease and coronary heart disease.
  • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and leukemia.
  • Metabolic disorders, liver disorders, and morbidly obese people (CDC, 2013).

Selection of Flu Vaccine for 2013 Influenza Season

    In the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Essential Regulatory Laboratories, and other agencies from the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response Systems (GISRS) meet to decide on the choice of vaccine for the Flu year. Based on their recommendation, the U.S. FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meets to conclude the WHO’s recommendation.

The flu viruses selected for the season are updated annually based on the information about which influenza viruses being found, how they are spreading, and how effective the previous season’s vaccine viruses might protect against any that are being newly identified.

     Presently, there are about 100 national influenza centers in more than 100 countries conduct year-round surveillance for influenza viruses and disease activity (CDC.gov, 2013). The laboratories send influenza viruses for additional analyses to the five WHO collaborating Centers for Reference and Research on Influenza. The centers are located in Atlanta, Georgia for the United States, London, United Kingdom, Melbourne, Australia, Tokyo, Japan, and Beijing, China. The goal of the chosen vaccine is to maximize the possibility that the influenza vaccine will protect against the viruses most likely to spread and cause illness among people during the upcoming flu season. The WHO makes the recommendation for the specific vaccine viruses for influenza production, and the individual country decides the licensing of vaccines in their country. The FDA determines the U.S.-licensed vaccines (CDC.gov).

Precautions of the Flu

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you or your child gets sick with the cold, presenting like the flu like symptoms, limit contact as much as possible.
  • If fever is present, stay home or keep the child home.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Take the antiviral drugs prescribed by your doctor.
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