According to the LA Times, state health officials have reported that influenza deaths in California have doubled to 95, with 51 more cases probably being confirmed this week. That puts this year’s number of fatalities so far at almost 150. This time last year, only 9 deaths had been confirmed, and only 106 were confirmed for the whole flu season.
It’s being said that the flu is hitting harder than officials have seen in 5 years, when the 2009 outbreak occurred.
“So far we have a much more severe season,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez in a conference call with reporters Friday. He also added that flu activity in Cali remains “widespread”. The reason for the gap between this year’s deaths and last year’s is because apparently, this year’s season started early. However, this year’s predominant strain is said to be H1N1 “swine flu”, which is inherently more deadly than other strains. 75 out of the 95 confirmed deaths have supposedly been caused by H1N1.
Nationwide for the week of Jan. 12-18, the virus was 96.8% of the influenza A viruses tested. H3 viruses were a small minority at 3.2%, according to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In San Jose, the increase in patients coming in with flu-like symptoms has prompted the hospital to put up a flu tent in their parking lot, which is a first for them.
“In the past we’ve been able to run flu overflow in other parts of the hospital that were empty,” Nelson said. “But we are full so now we are using the tent.”
Chavez said that the week ending January 18 saw a decrease in hospitalizations and outpatient visits for the flu, but added that the level was still higher than normal for this time of year, and that it’s still unclear whether or not this means that the peak of flu season has already hit.
“It’s too early to tell … whether that’s the beginning of a reversal or just a temporary change,” he said.
Of course, he urged people to get “vaccinated to protect themselves from the flu” ; However, this year’s flu vaccine – although touted as effective and necessary – has been touted as the opposite by many health care professionals, and the mainstream media has even resorted to putting out hit pieces on health care employees who refuse to be vaccinated, resulting in new workplace rules in hospitals and doctors’ offices that force them to do so.
To the dismay of the authorities, however, one segment of the population is surprisingly resistant to getting the flu and other vaccines recommended for them — doctors, nurses and others working in the health care sector.
Non-vaccinated people are breeding grounds for quickly evolving strains that could lay waste to a population. They’re walking Petri dishes, where otherwise under-control invaders can adapt and launch devastating offensives. Western liberty comes with responsibility, and endangering an entire community is poor citizenship, plain and simple.
Also, many parents and teachers themselves are wondering about the efficacy of a vaccine that fails to prevent hundreds of thousands of cases in places ranging from Texas and Georgia to Idaho and Oregon.
A 5-year-old Eugene boy died from flu-related complications in late December after health officials say he caught the H1N1 virus.
Calandra Burgess said her son Ronan received the flu vaccine in November.
“All three of my children had the nasal spray. My other two kids didn’t get sick at all,” said Burgess.
The one and only time I got a flu shot, I was sick as a dog with the flu two weeks later, and was down for over a week. I’ve never been so sick in my life. Since then, no flu shot, and no flu!
I don’t get the hype either…no one in my family gets the flu. No one gets the shot either…
The virus itself is typically more deadly among young children and the elderly. However, these past years have seen more deadly illness among young, healthy adults, which is common with Type A flu strains. Only 3 of the 95 confirmed deaths in Cali were children under 10. But the majority of young adults who died had other conditions that put them at risk, such as obesity, pregnancy, or underlying health issues.
Another factor to consider: the weather. As we reported a few days ago, drought has caused severe air pollution in the Central Valley, and experts are pointing to that as a potential cause of the severity of the flu season:
Schaffner said California’s drought could be spurring the spread of influenza.
The flu doesn’t strike every part of the country simultaneously and weather patterns could be a factor. Flu season has been mild in New England, which has been slammed by frigid temperatures and snow, he said. But in dry California, it’s a different story. Flu is widespread here.
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