United States is Experiencing Widespread Influenza Infection since Fall, 2019

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By neucrad health news desk April 1, 2020

Every year the period between the start of fall to the end of spring is known as ‘flu season’ in the United States. However, 2019 was different from other seasons because last year, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found influenza B as the dominant strain for the infection [1]. Though in the previous 27 years, the viral strain did not cause much agony to human beings, in 2019, it was brutal, especially for kids [2].

In the Louisiana area of the United States, the flu virus was most active and even claimed one live in 2019. There were widespread infections and severe illness among kids due to the virus. Though the flu season starts in October, last year the pathogen started striking from July. The CDC reported that a significant healthcare institute in New Orleans confirmed 1268 influenza B virus infections. It led to 23 hospitalisations between July 31 to November 21, 2019. It is an alarming condition because, in other seasons, the virus remains inactive during these months. Throughout the nation, there were 32 deaths among children due to influenza-related complications. Out of these, influenza B  infected 21 kids.

In other states of the United States, as well, influenza B is creating havoc. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that in 2019 the influenza B strain was dominant. The state documented 25,362 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases. It caused 477  hospitalisations and even claimed the life of 13 patients.

In other states like New Jersey, the influenza B strain was also surprisingly active in 2019. The Respiratory Virus Surveillance Report confirmed 570 influenza B infections in just one week at the beginning of January 2020. The health agencies are worried about this sudden change of the infection trend because most flu vaccines safeguard only against two influenza-A strains and two influenza B strains. Since there are numerous strains of the pathogen, it is challenging to predict which type will cause more damage in a specific year. Moreover, the vaccine is only 60 per cent effective in protecting against the disease.

“A total of 19,543 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported by FluSurv-NET sites between October 1, 2019 and March 21, 2020; 14,100 (72.1%) were associated with influenza A virus, 5,335 (27.3%) with influenza B virus, 56 (0.3%) with influenza A virus and influenza B virus co-infection, and 52 (0.3%) with influenza virus for which the type was not determined. Among those with influenza A subtype information, 3,747 (94.5%) were A(H1N1)pdm09 virus and 219 (5.5%) were A(H3N2)”, according to the recent report of CDC [3].

What are the symptoms of Influenza Infection?

The common symptoms of Influenza include:

  •        High fever above 100.4 F (38 C)
  •        Body aches and headache
  •        Chills and sweats
  •        Sore throat
  •        Nasal congestion
  •        Dry and persistent cough
  •        General body weakness

Individuals having a healthy body and good immunity do not face much trouble from the flu. In most cases, the infection heals on its own, and you do not require an appointment with the doctor. However, if pregnant women, or children below five years, or adults above sixty-five years show symptoms of influenza, it is better to receive medical attention.

What are the treatments for Influenza?

Since influenza is a viral disease; it heals on its own if you take rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy foods. You may also take some over-the-counter pain reliever to minimise the headache and body aches. However, if the condition becomes severe doctors prescribe antiviral medicines like oseltamivir, zanamivir, peramivir, and baloxavir marboxil.

Finally, we can say that though influenza A and B are both high contagious infections, annual vaccination help in preventing its occurrence and reduce complications. Besides, maintaining proper hygiene, limiting contacts with infected patients and wearing a mask reduces the chances of inoculation.

References:

1)     Influenza B is the dominant flu strain for first time in almost 30 years, CDC says

2)     Early Season Paediatric Influenza B/Victoria Virus Infections Associated with a Recently Emerged Virus Subclade — Louisiana, 2019

3) https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/#S5

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