Flu ‘gathering pace’ in US as health officials brace for possible tough season



CNN

US health officials are more and more involved about this 12 months’s flu season and are seeing indicators that the virus is spreading.

As the 2022-23 flu season begins, one California highschool is dealing with “excessive numbers of courses” amongst college students attributable to flu circumstances. Flu exercise in the United States often begins to extend in October and often peaks between December and February.

“We won’t have many courses at Henry High School as a result of flu,” Samer Naji, a spokeswoman for the San Diego Unified School District, stated in an e mail to CNN on Thursday. About 1,000 of the two,600 college students had been absent on Wednesday.

“So far, the COVID checks have been adverse, however a number of college students have examined constructive for the flu,” Naji stated. “Typical indicators and signs embody cough, sore throat, runny nostril, fever and different signs of higher respiratory infections. We are intently related to San Diego County Public Health.

San Diego County Public Health introduced Wednesday that it’s investigating a big outbreak of respiratory and flu-like signs amongst college students at Patrick Henry High School, including that it’s “too early” to find out the reason for the outbreak. to evaluate the opportunity of related circumstances in different faculties.

“We are coordinating with native faculty districts and checking with different faculty campuses to attempt to perceive why so many college students had been abruptly affected,” stated Dr. County Health Deputy Cameron Kaiser stated.

“Unfortunately, we anticipate this to be a tough flu season, and together with COVID19, different respiratory viruses are making a fast comeback,” Kaiser stated. “If you have not already, now could be the time to get your flu and COVID-19 vaccines to get the additional safety supplied by vaccines.”

Flu exercise in a given 12 months will be tough to foretell, however docs are getting ready for a “very critical” flu season, stated Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious ailments at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

“I’m involved that we will have a really critical flu season this 12 months, which could be very totally different from our earlier two seasons,” he stated.

Signs of elevated flu exercise had been first seen in the Southern Hemisphere this summer season, and as extra folks in the Northern Hemisphere ease Covid-19 restrictions and return to socializing with out masks and in giant numbers, flu circumstances are being reported. It is uncommon for circumstances to be so widespread this early in the flu season.

“Here we’re in mid-October, not mid-November — we’re seeing scattered circumstances of influenza, even hospitalizations for influenza,” stated Schaffner, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. displays hospitalized flu circumstances.

“So we all know that this virus is already spreading in the neighborhood. It is already gathering momentum. It looks like a few month early to me,” Schaffner stated.

When folks started to isolate, social distance and put on masks to sluggish the unfold of Covid-19 in early 2020, the flu was nearly solely absent in the US. As a consequence, most individuals haven’t had the flu for a number of years, which can result in low immunity to influenza viruses and underscores the necessity for vaccination.

U.S. health officials are urging folks to get the flu vaccine as quickly as possible, stated Adrian Casalotti, director of presidency and neighborhood affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

“Influenza vaccination is now on the precedence record of individuals. We’re apprehensive about what’s taking place in the Southern Hemisphere, in Australia, that this 12 months’s flu season may very well be actually, actually tough,” Casalotti stated.

Concerns have grown as officials say this winter that Covid-19 and different widespread respiratory viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, are the main explanation for decrease respiratory tract infections in infants and younger youngsters.

Casalotti stated flu outbreaks can have a big affect on communities, particularly since flu signs will be tough to tell apart from these of Covid-19, the flu or allergic reactions.

“We’re beginning to see the flu spreading in some areas,” Casalotti stated. “Overall, flu exercise is low throughout the nation, however is beginning to choose up particularly in the Southeast.”

In August, as issues concerning the upcoming flu season grew, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices launched a report updating this 12 months’s seasonal flu vaccination suggestions.

Older adults usually obtain the next dose of flu vaccine than youthful adults, however in a latest replace, the ACIP advisable that adults 65 and older “get” the next dose or a booster flu vaccine.

“There are three flu vaccines that work finest in folks 65 and older,” stated Schaffner, ACIP’s communications consultant. “There’s a high-dose vaccine that has an adjuvant — an immune stimulator — and a 3rd one is a recombinant vaccine.” Recombinant influenza vaccines don’t comprise influenza virus or hen eggs in the course of the manufacturing course of.

“If you have a look at folks 65 and older in earlier seasons, 80% of them obtained one in all these three vaccines,” he stated. “What’s new this 12 months is that ACIP has launched a particular precedence supply. They truly stated that when you’re vaccinating folks 65 and older, use one in all these three vaccines, and if you do not have one in all them, use the common vaccine.

In common, the CDC recommends that everybody 6 months and older, particularly those that could also be pregnant, get the flu vaccine as a result of the vaccine protects not solely them but in addition their child, Schaffner stated.

“There’s an additional benefit,” he stated. “Specifically, the antibodies shaped in response to the vaccine, part of which passes via the placenta and enters the new child child. So the new child receives a few of this safety in the primary 4 to 6 months of his life, earlier than we actively vaccinate the kid.”

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