Saturday, February 19, 2011

What's up with flu this season?

I've just started seeing patients with influenza this month. No lack of people coming in for "flu" since winter began, but most of these visits are for any number of other circulating viruses. The miserable souls dragging their sorry selves into my exam room here lately have been hit hard and fast with fever, chills, bone-deep aching, headache, and a cough that generates from the depth of their being. All save one passed on flu shots, and the latter had a mild version of all of the above, puzzling until I realized she'd gotten vaccinated earlier which softened the blow.

Good news here is that this year's shot, for those of you who got it, is a good match for the strains currently flying through the air in projectile spittle. The CDC's latest update confirms my observations that true influenza is here, and the predominate strain is A/H3N2 which is not that scary H1N1 "swine" flu that showed up last year (although that one's going around as well). The H3N2 virus hits hardest amongst young children and older adults. And I'm here to tell you that the in-betweeners are pretty darn miserable too.

If you have an underlying illness such as asthma or COPD, beat feet to your doc's at the first sign of true flu. This year's strains are still sensitive to Tamiflu, but official recommendations are that this drug only be given to those who either are at risk for or suffering from progressive disease.


Ruth said...

H1N1 was not scary enough and people were turned off by all the hype last year. Only 30% of the employees at our hospital got flu shots this year. So far it has been a very mild season here, but it is not over. I haven't had a flu shot in several years after having 2 patients in a row in rehab with Guillain Barre after their shots. It is a gamble.

kenju said...

Welcome back!

We had flu shots in September, before I read that they only last for about 90 days. I had a mild flu in late Jan. Next year, I think we will wait until mid/late Oct. to get our flu shots.

Mauigirl said...

I got my flu shot faithfully in early November I think it was. But I did just catch (and am still recovering from) the worst "cold" I've had in years - which started with a nasty cough that if I didn't know better would have thought was the flu. But I had no fever or aches, so I don't know if that means it wasn't a milder form of the flu or not.