Published: Mon, January 15, 2018
Medical | By Jackie Banks

Flu patients leave Texas hospitals strapped

Flu patients leave Texas hospitals strapped

Flu season is hitting the area and the nation hard this year.

Flu-related deaths in Kentucky are defined by fatalities that have a positive flu test, Lincoln Trail District Health Department Senior Epidemiologist David L. Day said.

The CDC expects the 2017-2018 flu epidemic is shaping up to be the most deadly since 2009-2010 swine flu epidemic that killed 284,000 people worldwide and 657 Californians. They've accounted for 70 percent of patients who've been hospitalized.

The Department of Public Health says flu activity in Kentucky is "widespread" for the fourth consecutive week.

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.

Despite vaccination being a third as effective compared to prior years and it is taking two weeks before it is effective, the California Department of Public Health website states it is "not too late to get a vaccination".

Last fall, when the provincial government stopped paying doctors to administer the shots as a cost-cutting measure, the group that represents physicians warned the vaccination rate would go down and cost the province more through increased hospital admissions.

Big-city hospitals in Texas have been overwhelmed this week by an influx of flu patients, and state health officials say influenza activity is widespread across the state.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association a year ago criticized the provincial decision to stop paying doctors to give the shot in favour of more free clinics. Flu season lasts from October through March each year, and typically peaks around January or February. Tolland County reported 38 cases of flu, while Windham saw 13.

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Cases were reported in all eight counties, with Hartford seeing the highest number of patients at 367.

Flu shot effectiveness varies from year to year for several reasons, including strain mutations and the types of strains that are spread during a particular season. DPH Commissioner Dr. J. Patrick O'Neal advised that it is not too late to get a flu shot.

Regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with the inside of one's elbow, and reducing stress also will protect and limit the effects of seasonal flu.

CHOA is now under visitor restrictions to protect patients from the cold and flu season, a spokeswoman said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that this year's vaccine is only about 30 percent effective.

Anton encouraged people to get flu shots if they haven't already and, if infected, to stay home and be aware.

Flu vaccines are available at the health department and at many healthcare providers, urgent care facilities and pharmacies.

The most widely circulating flu strain, Type A, subtype H3N2, is this year's most risky.

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