CDC: Flu Cases at Epidemic Proportions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports influenza is now an epidemic, with varying amounts of activity in 36 states. Flu season normally peaks in January or February.
Twenty-two states and Puerto Rico are reporting moderate to high levels of flu activity, according to the CDC. Fifteen children in nine states – including Florida – have died. Escambia County Health Director Dr. John Lanza says seniors and children are the most vulnerable.
The Florida death was that of an 11-year-old boy in Bradenton. Lanza says for the most part, influenza is not a reportable disease, which causes problems in calculating adult deaths. But this case is part of the exception; flu-related deaths of children under age 18 are required to be reported to the state DOH.
Flu activity was reported to be moderate in Escambia and Okaloosa Counties, and mild in Santa Rosa as of last week, according to the latest available data from the Florida Department of Health.
There are at least four strains of flu going around. Some are covered in this year’s vaccine, while some are not. Included are two types of influenza B, and a few cases of so-called “Bird Flu.”
Influenza is transmitted by close contact with someone sneezing or coughing, or by touching those little droplets and then putting your hands to your eyes, nose or mouth. One of the best weapons against any flu virus is frequent hand-washing.
Reports have been circulating that the flu vaccine – given by injection or nasal spray – is not as effective as first believed. But the CDC – and Dr. John Lanza at DOH-Escambia -- says a dose remains the best bet against contracting influenza – and that it’s not too late to get one.
More information can be found at www.cdc.gov and at www.escambia.floridahealth.gov.