This year’s flu shot protects against a new strain of the flu. Health experts have been tracking this strain for a while and believe it will be one of the main strains to circulate this season.
Flu cases fluctuate
The severity of the flu season always fluctuates. In fact, scientists have a hard time predicting which strains will likely infect people each year.
“Influenza is predictably unpredictable,” Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, who spoke at a news conference in Washington organized by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease said.
“In 2009-2010, we had a pandemic with thousands hospitalized and many deaths,” Koh said. “Last year, we set a record for the lowest number of hospitalizations and the shortest influenza season.”
People sickened by new flu strain
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 145 cases of the influenza A (H3N2) variant have been found in four states since mid-July: 113 in Indiana, 30 in Ohio, one in Illinois and one in Hawaii. According to CNN, an additional seven cases were recently diagnosed in Indiana.
“Surprisingly, the greatest, overwhelming percentage (of cases) is in people 16 years and younger,” Dr. Gregory Larkin, Indiana state health commissioner said. “As our investigation continues, we’re seeing transmission from ill or infected swine, or hogs, to their handlers, which in most of these cases are kids.”
Ways to prevent getting the flu
The main suggestion doctors give people looking to prevent getting sick is to wash their hands. It sounds simple, but keeping germs off the hands is crucial in staying well. Other than that, continue healthy behavior like eating right and covering your mouth when you cough.
Will you get a flu shot?
Do you plan to get a flu shot? Have you already done it? Why do you think it’s important? Tell us in the comment section below.
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