Friday, March 24, 2017

Flu virus shifting east, hitting older adults hardest

Influenza season may seem like a routine occurrence every winter season has become a more pronounced problem in the Northwest this flu season. Flu activity decreased slightly but were at high level in mid February. Some states only saw isolated instance of influenza illness while most saw widespread infection. The most astonishing characteristic of this flu season has been the great number of middle age adults that have been hospitalized. The cohort with the second highest percentage of hospitalizations has traditionoally been 0-4 year olds but this year 50-64 year olds have taken the spot. With 33 per 100.000 adults 50 to 64 being hosptilazied and 21 per 100,000 children  up to age 4 getting hospitalized, scientists are wondering what is leading to this trend. While the predominant strain of flu can shift from year to year, the predominant strain this year H3N2 has been seen before and did not induce such a high rate in middle aged adults. The vaccine effectiveness has determined to be even higher at 48% overall compared to 47% in the past thus is not the cause of the increase. The good news is that the worst of the flu season is though to be over and rate of hospitalizations have begun to go down.

Vander Harris


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