When it comes to the flu, it feels like the season never ends—or at least it gets longer and longer every year. And the flu virus is a tricky one: Scientists are never quite sure what strain is going to hit. Essentially, there are four different types of the flu this season that someone can get. Scientists do their best to create a vaccine that helps the most people, but especially those at risk such as children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
One might think because they got the flu once already this season that they are in the clear. But that isn't quite the case for this year. There are two types of flu circulating, flu A and flu B. Within both type A and B, there are two subtypes for each influenza. Essentially, there are four different types of the flu this season that someone can get.
There have been many pandemics of the flu in the recent past. But how far back can we track influenza? Since the symptoms of the flu are similar to other respiratory diseases, it is hard to decipher the two throughout history. Influenza comes from the Latin language meaning "influence," referring to the cause of the disease.
Everyone has a different reaction to the flu when it comes to the symptoms and recovery time. That we all know, but not everyone knows about the complications that can arise from having the flu. Those people that are at a higher risk of severe flu complications are young children, adults of the age 65 or older, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions.
The flu virus is known to spread through coughing, sneezing, and touching surfaces. But new research from the University of Maryland in College Park shows something new. People with the flu can spread the virus into the air around them just by breathing. Their research shows those who are infected with the virus generate tiny droplets that stay suspended within the air for a long time. This is true even when they aren't coughing or sneezing and happens the most within the first few days of illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “established National Influenza Week in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond”. This year it will be acknowledged December 3-9, 2017.
Influenza, better known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can even lead to death. Symptoms of the flu tend to start suddenly and include the following:
An onslaught of a deadly and quickly mutating strain of the flu has affected the Southern Hemisphere as well as parts of Australia this year. Influenza A, caused by the H3N2 virus, is the flu subtype wreaking havoc on these areas, especially in Australia. The H3N2 virus triggers outbreaks of influenza A and B that circulate among individuals. Flu seasons are undeniably miserable when this virus dominates. Statistics from the Immunisation Coalition “show there was a 156% increase in confirmed cases of influenza in August this year when compared to the same time last year.”
We know and accept that germs are spread each and every place that we go. Those germs that cause the flu are even more apparent from October to May. There is however a difference year after year in how many people are affected by the virus.
Although most doctors recommend that everyone must get the flu vaccination, that is not always the case. In a study completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 40% of people in the United States get the flu shot. Even if someone doesn’t get the vaccine every year, there are plenty of other ways to protect yourself from catching the virus.
Each year, flu season hits and it seems like everyone is getting sick at some point or another. While the general public gets mostly mild symptoms of illness and recovers quickly, others are not so lucky. For people 65 or above and children younger than 5 with weak immune defenses, they are at more of a risk for developing serious problems in combination with influenza. Some examples of these issues would be Pneumonia, Bronchitis, and both sinus and ear infections.