Every year people want to know approaching flu season how effective the flu vaccination will be and how severe of a flu season it will likely be as well. At this point in the season, as we have yet to reach the peak of flu season, the prediction is that it will not be as severe of a season as it was last year, which was one of the highest severities of flu seasons in many years.
How many times have we pushed off the first signs of illness only for it to emerge as the flu? What happens next varies from person to person. Some people are bedridden, others attempt to work through the illness, and in some severe cases, the flu claims their life. The flu isn’t a disease to take lightly, and the 2017 – 2018 season has been a bad one compared to years past.
For most people, it is easy to forget about the flu when scares about different diseases are plastered all over the news media. However, the flu remains one of the most deadly diseases to ravage our country every year. The flu generally doesn’t kill; it’s complications that arise that lead to death. Let’s dive in and take a look at how this illness can lead to death.
Last year was one of the worst flu seasons in years with thousands of Americans dying from influenza or pneumonia. 100 years ago was the pandemic of 1918 and it claimed the lives of 670,000 American men, women, and children and as many as 50 to 100 million people worldwide. Due to this deadly outbreak, medical researchers learned the importance of getting vaccinated.
One hundred years ago the most severe pandemic in recent history swept the nation, the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. This pandemic led to the death of 50 million people worldwide and 675,000 Americans. It was caused by an H1N1 virus, and the location of its origin is still unknown to this day. It is estimated that 1/3 of the world's population became infected with this virus. Mortality was high in a range of toddlers younger than five years old, people from the age range of 20-40 years old, and the elderly who were 65 years old or older. As CDC claims, "The high mortality rate in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic” (www.cdc.gov ). With no vaccines and no antibiotics to protect against influenza back in 1918, this pandemic became catastrophic.
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.