During flu season, I write a lot of articles promoting the flu vaccine. Why? Because it is the best way to avoid getting the flu. 

I also talk to a lot of people about the flu vaccine and why they are (or are not) getting one. Inevitably, I hear that the flu vaccine is "terrible this year" or "doesn't even work." And, although that is not true, the flu vaccine certainly could be better. 

Vaccines kick-start the body to make protective antibodies specific to the bacteria or virus of choice. For example, the MMR vaccine tells the body to make antibodies to measles, mumps and rubella and the flu vaccine tells the body to make antibodies against the flu. 

These protective antibodies are of the IgG class of antibodies. There are five major classes of antibodies, IgA,...

This flu season, one product is making its comeback: orange juice. Sales of OJ seem to have gotten a boost — after years of decline — due to consumers' fears of getting the dreaded illness. 

But is dosing yourself with high amounts of Vitamin C warranted for this year's flu from hell?










Flu season is well underway as anyone looking at the nightly news is aware. According to the CDC pneumonia and influenza mortality in this last period exceeds our epidemic threshold. Since October there have been nearly 9,000 laboratory-confirmed hospitalizations for influenza, the highest rate, among adults over age 65 (136.5/100,000 population); patients who frequently (75%) have other medical problems (co-morbidities). While the diagnosis of influenza seems kinda straight-forward based on these numbers, the reality is that physicians misdiagnose influenza a lot. But does it matter?

A study released in the last week looked at 1422 adult patients admitted for respiratory problems [1] to one academic and three community...

Groundhog Day, the greatest American tradition, happens every year on February 2nd, when several overly dressed gents pull a rodent out of a tree to predict the weather for the next six weeks. They've done this for 132 years.

Let that sink in. In the words of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, "That's why the aliens won't talk to us."

Besides being a little strange, the Groundhog Day prediction isn't accurate. Well over 100 times, Phil saw his shadow and predicted more winter. His prognostications have provided little insight on what is to come in the following weeks, but at least Phil has confirmed that it's always sunny in Punxsutawney.

If the little...

This year's flu season is going to be bad. So far, at least 30 children have died from the flu.

But, as it turns out, influenza won't be bad just for humans; it will be bad for our canine companions, as well. According to news sources, canine influenza ("dog flu") has been reported in 46 states.

Dog flu is incredibly infectious. Though there is no "dog flu season," the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that nearly all dogs that are exposed to it will become infected, with 80% showing signs of illness. Symptoms in dogs are similar to those seen in humans: fatigue,...

We may sound like a broken record when it comes to flu season, but, the number and severity of the tragic stories emerging about the flu this season are a reason for concern. 

The infection seems especially bad in California where 27 people younger than 65 have died from flu since October (seven of them were in the week before Christmas). At this time last year, that number was three.

The difference between last year and this year can also be seen in the graph below, where the number of positive flu tests in California is currently much higher than at this same time last year. 

Emergency rooms are overcrowded, mostly due to flu patients, as...

Flu season is ramping up and the cases that have already occurred are being used to make predictions on what will be coming down the pike when it peaks in a month or two.

So far this flu season, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been predominant in the United States (represented by the red bars in the graph below.) This information interests health officials as this particular strain is more concerning than others. Previous flu seasons when H3N2 led the pack were more severe, especially among young children and older adults. Between the years 2003 to 2013, the three flu seasons that were dominated by H3N2 strains of the flu had the highest mortality rates. 

What does the...

How often do you hear a friend or colleague even stranger say, “I was sick with the flu?” It’s a refrain likely to occur each winter. Are they lying? No. Mistaken is more accurate.

Many believe certain illnesses are the flu that actually are not. For instance, there are well over a hundred different rhinoviruses that cause the common cold. That’s why you can get a few colds per season. Some are mild, others more severe. Each distinctly manifests in the respective host. If our resistance is down or we have other conditions or take certain medications, then we can be more at risk of contracting infectious diseases and experiencing them with greater severity.

This can be why one of us has a minor sniffle and another of us is in bed. And yet another acquires nothing. This...

It's the middle of November and it's time to move "get a flu shot" straight up to the top of the to-do list if you haven't already. There is no more procrastinating. 

Why? Because it is coming - and fast. In order to see just how soon we will be walloped by flu cases, take a look at the graph below which shows the number of positive influenza tests reported to the CDC starting in October, 2016. Each bar represents one week. The different colors, which are less important, represent which strain was identified. What is easily seen is that the number of positive cases started to climb in the fall of 2016  -  just around the first week of November. And, the cases climbed steadily until they peaked in February and March, coming back down again until there were almost none over the ...

If you have been procrastinating getting your flu shot - it's time to get it off of your 'to-do' list. 

Flu statistics are watched closely at this time of year, and the last few weeks of data have shown a notable increase in the number of flu cases. More, experts predict that flu activity will be increasing in the near future - specifically over the next several weeks.

The Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report from the NY State Department of Health says that last week (ending December 24th) was the worst week to date and it was also the first week that widespread activity was reported.

During that week, there was a 143% increase...