The deadly H1N1 flu strain virus is back and this season it has already spread to more than half the country. Children, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions should get their vaccinations as soon as possible to prevent death and flu complications, according to senior medical officials with the Center's For Disease Control.
Hospitals and virologists are monitoring the outbreak closely, watching for signs and patterns to see if this year's virus will be similar to the 2009/2010 swine flu pandemic that spread across the globe from its origination point in Mexico to more than 70 countries. During the outbreak is estimated that as many as 290,000 people died from the swine flu, according to a new study conducted by the World Health Organization and the CDC.
So this year, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) want the American people to know it's never to late to get vaccinated and they are warning parents with small children and people with underlying health issues that a vaccination - which takes several weeks to be active - is the best way to protect yourself from the virus.
“We're seeing the virus in ten regions across the United States and a recent uptick in the past several weeks, Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of Epidemiology and Prevention in the CDC’s Influenza Division, told TheBlaze. "As long as the disease is circulating we recommend that people get vaccinated now."
He noted that children and people with lowered immunities are particularly susceptible to the more dangerous consequences of the virus. Dr. Bresee warned that even healthy children, who have not been vaccinated, can become victims of the virus and at least six children have died this year from the flu.
During the 2009 outbreak, it was younger people who were affected most by the H1N1, he said. But he noted it is still to early to tell if this year's virus will be as dangerous as the 2009 virus or if it will target the young.
The H1N1 virus is becoming more common every flu season and it was included in this year's vaccine, Dr. Bresee said.
"It's important that parents get their children vaccinated," said Dr. Bresee, who pointed to a long-term study by the CDC titled Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2004−2012 led by Karen K. Wong.
Dr. Wong's study, published in American Pediatrics in October, 2013 looked at children's deaths over eight influenza seasons from 2004 to 2012 in the United States and "found that even healthy children are just as susceptible to death as children with underlying factors."
Of the 830 pediatric influenza–associated deaths that were reported between 2004 and 2012, 35 percent of children died before hospital admission, Dr. Wong's research found.
"Of 794 children with a known medical history, 43% had no high-risk medical conditions, 33% had neurologic disorders, and 12% had genetic or chromosomal disorders," the study discovered.
"Influenza can be fatal in children with and without high- risk medical conditions. These findings highlight the importance of recommendations that all children should receive annual influenza vaccination to prevent influenza, and children who are hospitalized, who have severe illness, or who are at high risk of complications (age ,2 years or with medical conditions) should receive antiviral treatment as early as possible," the author noted in her conclusion.
Over past week, 25 states are reporting flu outbreaks. There is widespread flu activity in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington state and Wyoming, according to the CDC.
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