The Flu and You

Dava Smith, Staff Writer

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Annual outbreaks of the influenza A strain are common, but this year has been unusually severe. Two things causing this outbreak are cold weather and vaccine imperfection. The flu has spread like wildfire, reaching every state in the continental U.S.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that this season’s outbreak is the worst seen in the past thirteen years.  It’s projected that the flu outbreak won’t slow down for several more months.  As of January 27th, hospitals and outpatient clinics have seen a 4.9% increase of patients with the flu per week.  One percent of the entire population have been diagnosed with the virus this year.  Even though the vaccine doesn’t completely match up to the H1N1 strain, CDC officials still stress the importance of getting a vaccination to prevent infection and the spread of the disease.  In response to this, manufacturers reportedly have shipped more than 151 million doses of flu vaccines, making it very easy to obtain.  The vaccine mismatch was not caused by a genetic shift in the circulating flu, as has happened in some years, but by changes in the “seed virus” used in the vaccine.  As it grew in eggs, the vaccine picked up genetic mutations foreign to human flu.  So in order to prevent getting infected, proper steps should be taken.  Some ways to prevent infection are: avoid close contact with seemingly sick people, stay home when you are sick, wash your hands, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.  Since children are especially susceptible to catching this strain of flu, it makes school a breeding ground for infection.  So remember to take precautions, kids!


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The Flu and You