Posts for category: Infectious Disease
Flu seasons are notoriously unpredictable, but there are alreadthe upcoming season may be especially difficult.
Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere can be an indication of what's to come in the Northern Hemisphere, and the recent flu season in Australia, where winter has just ended, arrived early and with a vengeance. A particularly virulent flu strain, H3N2, dominated.
What's more, a pediatric flu death has already been reported in the U.S. — a 4 year-old in California who had underlying health problems.
"We should never forget that the flu still kills," Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a public health officer for Riverside County, California, said in a news release announcing the death.
"A death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual," Kaiser warned.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that last year — during the longest flu season in history — there were 37 million to 43 million flu illnesses in the U.S., and 36,400 to 61,200 flu-related deaths.
Last year's flu season ran from Oct. 1, 2018, to May 4.
Is it too early to get the flu vaccine?
No. Doctors say people should get the flu vaccine now, and certainly before Thanksgiving.
"The concern with delaying it is that some people who might have the opportunity to get vaccinated now may not have that opportunity later," said Dr. Robert Atmar, a professor of medicine and an infectious disease expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
"The most important thing is for people to get their flu vaccine, and get it before the epidemic starts," he said.
Most healthy people who get the shot in September can expect some protection through the spring. But older adults may want to schedule their vaccination for sometime in October.
"There is a concern that some older people may have their immunity wane simply because their immune system is more frail, less robust," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Flu activity usually picks up in October and November, peaks around February, and can last well into the spring months. The CDC recommends everyone over age 6 months be vaccinated against the flu, especially expectant mothers.
Pregnant women who get the flu tend to have complications similar to those over 65. The shot offers protection for both the woman and her unborn baby.
It takes about two weeks to build immunity to influenza after getting the vaccine.
But even then, the flu vaccine offers only partial protection. Last year, the vaccine didn't work well: Its overall effectiveness was 29 percent.
Doctors blamed the poor match on a surprise second wave of H3N2 flu activity late in the season.
Why should I get the flu vaccine even if it doesn't work well?
There is plenty of evidence that the vaccine can ease the severity of the flu if you do get sick. Doctors say people who get the vaccine generally don't feel as sick if they do wind up with the flu, and they're less likely to develop complications of the virus, including pneumonia and death.
"Partial protection frequently gets overlooked, and we shouldn't forget that," Schaffner said. "Because it’s those complications that do you in."
What's more, research published last year found the risk for heart attack or stroke increases the month after a person is diagnosed with the flu. The mechanism is likely one of inflammation and stress in the body caused by the virus.
A specific flu shot call Fluzone may be best for older adults. "For people over age 65, there is evidence that the high-dose vaccine will provide greater than a standard dose vaccine," Atmar said.
Fluzone and the standard dose shots available this year include protection against several influenza strains, including H1N1 and H3N2.
FluMist, the nasal spray favored by kids and anyone else averse to needles, is also back this year, although delivery to offices has been delayed.
CDC Announces 71 More Measles Cases.
The AP (4/22) reports that there were 71 more measles cases in the US last week, and 68 of them were in New York, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have now been 626 total cases so far this year, and the article points out that there were 667 cases in all of 2014 and 963 in 1994.
The Wall Street Journal (4/22, Subscription Publication) reports that health officials expect this year’s total to surpass that of 2014, which would make 2019 the worst year since 2000 when the disease stopped continuous circulation and was declared eliminated. The article notes that the largest outbreak so far this year has been centered in New York City’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and that New York City has ordered people living in certain neighborhoods to be vaccinated or pay a $1,000 fine.
ABC News (4/22) reports on its website that 194 of this year’s cases have been in New York’s Rockland County and according to local health officials, 80.8% of those infected in the county never received an MMR vaccine.
Reuters (4/22) reports that last week, Iowa and Tennessee reported their first cases of measles this year.
USA Today (4/22) reports that Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement that the reemergence of measles “deeply concerns us.” Marks added, “We cannot state strongly enough: The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect public health. Vaccinating against measles, mumps and rubella not only protects us and our children, it protects people who can’t be vaccinated, including children with compromised immune systems due to illness and its treatment, such as cancer.”
NBC News (4/22) reports on its website that Dr. Steven J. Goldstein, a pediatrician in Brooklyn and president of the New York Chapter 2 of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the measles outbreak is straining families and their physicians, “When there is a child in your practice with measles or it turns out the child has measles later, you have to close the office and investigate; you have to contact everybody who was in the practice at or around the time of exposure. Everyone needs to be notified about that possible exposure.”
Measles outbreaks in the United States are ongoing. For data as of August 15, visit Measles Cases and Outbreaks.
Most measles cases in the U.S. are related to international travel. Make sure you and your loved ones are protected before you travel internationally.
Visit Measles: For Travelers.
What's the Latest with the Flu
Special Alert – June 25, 2019
Current Influenza Activity
Influenza activity continues to decrease. As of June 15, 2019, there have been 119 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported this season (187 deaths last season). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends continuing to encourage annual influenza vaccination through June 30, when this current season's vaccine expires. It is a good time to follow-up and vaccinate infants who were previously too young to get flu vaccine, but who are now 6 months of age (two doses given at least four weeks apart are recommended for children age 6 months through 8 years of age who are receiving an influenza vaccine for the first time).
The AAP will no longer express a preference for the flu shot over nasal spray flu vaccine for children in the 2019-2020 flu season. The recommendation comes after the Academy reviewed current data on vaccine coverage and effectiveness and flu season characteristics. The supply of nasal spray flu vaccine will be limited during the 2019-'20 season due to manufacturing constraints.
CDC Travelers' Health Update
Measles is in many countries and outbreaks of measles are occurring
around the world. People traveling internationally should be fully vaccinated
at least two weeks before traveling. Anyone who is not immune to measles
is at risk of getting infected when they travel. More information.
Which travelers are at risk? You are at risk of measles infection if you travel
internationally and you have not been fully vaccinated against measles or have
not had measles in the past. The best protection against measles is vaccination.
with others. Call your doctor and tell them where you traveled.
and outbreaks of disease are occurring around the world, including Europe, the
Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Each year, an estimated 10 million
people get measles, and about 110,000 of them die from the disease or complications.
popular travel destinations like Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Ukraine, England,
Brazil, the Philippines, and more. CDC has issued a Global Travel Notice: Watch
(Level 1) for these outbreaks. Before your next trip, check your destination.
fully vaccinated or that you have other evidence of measles immunity. Evidence of
immunity means that you: (1) were born before 1957 or (2) have a lab test showing
that you have had measles in the past, (3) have a lab test showing you were immunized
against measles, or (4) you have written documentation of receiving measles vaccine.
appointment to get the MMR vaccine. MMR is nearly 100% effective at preventing
measles. If you are unsure if you have had two doses of the vaccine, or do not have
documentation of your prior doses, it is safe to get additional doses.
protected against measles before you travel.
. Infants vaccinated before 12 months of age should be revaccinated on or after
their first birthday with two doses, separated by at least 28 days.
• Children 12 months of age or older should have two doses, separated by at least
should get two doses, separated by at least 28 days.
Most . Make sure you and your loved ones are protected against measles before international travel.