flu

This year's flu season is going to be bad. So far, 20 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, cough,...

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...

Flu Season Ahead

Flu Vaccine Updates for 2016-2017  

October marks the beginning of flu season, which means it is time to get a flu shot. The flu season spans the months of October to May, so the ideal time to get vaccinated is before the end of October.  In the United States alone, influenza-related deaths have been estimated to be 3,349 - 48,614 annually, depending on the year.  The influenza vaccine is our best defense against this potentially deadly virus.

Because the flu virus frequently undergoes mutations, a new vaccine must be formulated each year.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses prevalence data from preceding months to determine which strains of influenza...

shutterstock_389013259 "If I Don't Look, It Won't Hurt" courtesy of Shutterstock

Many parents blanch at the thought of taking their kids to the doctor for vaccinations. No matter how much you explain the necessity for that pinprick, it's hard to overcome the fear of pain (which makes the whole experience worse). So when the first nasal spray flu vaccine became available in 2003, it was well received.

Unfortunately, that option is no longer available. At least for now. An advisory committee from the CDC just recommended that the spray should...

shutterstock_154217945 Young Infant via Shutterstock

Babies can't be immunized against influenza until they're around 6 months old, so it's important that their mothers get vaccinated during pregnancy so that they can pass their antibodies to the babies before birth. A recent study confirms the...

In like a lamb, out like a lion? Maybe not when it comes to flu season. According to the CDC's latest numbers, although the number of influenza cases reported across the country is steadily climbing, flu activity is nowhere near what the nation saw last year. However, that may not seem like the case in places hit hard this year, like Iowa, Kentucky and Texas, a few of the dozen states classified by the CDC as seeing "widespread" flu activity. Now the good news. To date, the hospitalization rate for the influenza virus is 1.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the U.S., compared with 36 cases per 100,000 this time last year. Much of the mildness of the flu season can be attributed to the efficacy of this year's vaccine, a contrast to last year's flu vaccine, which was...