Flu cases spike in New Mexico

A flu shot being administered

28 influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season among persons 45 and older says the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during the week was influenza A (H3N2). Schaffner stated, "They tend to result in more complications of flu: pneumonia, having to be hospitalized, and actually dying - that's number one".

Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist in the CDC's flu division, said that "the important thing for people to know is that we think that the flu vaccine will prevent some illness that's caused by the current circulating viruses".

Lynnette Brammer, lead of CDC's Domestic Influenza Surveillance Team, said that preliminary research is still underway to determine how well this year's vaccine is working against several different types of flu in circulation this year. While strains can still mutate in individual cases and render the vaccine ineffective for some people, the flu vaccine can also help lessen the severity of illness in some of these cases, said Dr. Robert Citronberg, infectious disease physician with Advocate Health Care.

"Usually when my children get sick, they get really sick", Leocadio said. Making the situation worse, this year's H3N2 is much more severe than seen in the past. It's especially critical for the elderly and chronically ill to be vaccinated.

People who are 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and people with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk of coming down with flu. In shared households, anyone who has the flu should be in a separate sick room.

All you readers cursing this year's flu as one of your worst ever, you now have scientific data to back up that claim.

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How can you avoid getting the flu?

It looks like this year, the Influenza A component of the vaccine is not that effective.

Deaconess Health System saw an increase in diagnosed flu case from last week to this week, said Sam Rogers, interim public information officer.

Keep in mind to store these medicines where children can not access them.

"I think we've already surpassed what we thought was busy in 2009", said Michelle Gunnett, director of emergency services at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, which set up a special flu tent just outside its emergency department entrance over the weekend. If you have a cold, you might have a mild fever and some body aches.

"It's been pretty rough the last 2-3 weeks", Chappell said.

All hospitals reported asking any patient showing flu symptoms to wear a mask while present in inpatient or outpatient facilities, and all said they are asking anyone known to have the flu to avoid visiting loved ones until they are well.

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