Although flu cases have started to decrease since its peak early this winter, flu season may continue well into late Spring. The CDC warns a second wave of flu may be upon us as Influenza B is making the rounds.
Although first bombarded with H3N2 “A” strain influenza, Americans appear to be reporting more “B” flu cases this time of year, comprising more than 58% of cases lab-identified.
And young children are especially susceptible to B strain viruses.
5 pediatric flu-related deaths have been reported this week. The CDC cites 133 influenza-related pediatric deaths for the current 2017-2018 season.
According to the CDC:
Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season. However, in recent weeks the proportion of influenza A viruses has declined, and during week 11, influenza B viruses were more frequently reported than influenza A viruses.
Week 11 (March 11-17, 2018) has seen the following:
The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.7%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. Nine of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Six states experienced high ILI activity; nine states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 17 states experienced low ILI activity; and 18 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
The trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccines both protected against Influenza B as well as the A strains of H1N1 and H3N2 this year. However, flu shot efficacy proved poor for the 2017-18 season, being approximately 30% effective. Moreover, flu viruses can mutate as the season progresses.
It is not uncommon for one to be infected with the flu twice by two different strains circulating during the season.
What’s concerning is allergy season is beginning to overlap with flu season. Those with allergies may have a temporary weakness in their immune system, making them more susceptible to catching a cold or flu.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee voted this week to return the FluMist, nasal spray flu vaccine, to the recommended options for the 2018-2019 flu season.
In 2016 it was not recommended and discouraged as they found its effectiveness against seasonal flu to be approximately 46%, when 65% efficacy was touted by the injectable flu shot. However this flu season, the current flu vaccine was found to be only 35% effective with one of the worst flu seasons in years taking the lives of healthy young adults and children.
Why was this season so severe? The H3N2 strain was the predominant one, notorious for bad flu seasons, and is crafty, able to mutate before the vaccine is finalized. Hence our flu vaccine was not able to be as close a match as desired.
The panel voted 12-2 this week to include FluMist as an option for medical providers to recommend against the upcoming 2018-2019 flu season.
Why was FluMist removed? Experts found it to be ineffective against one of the influenza A H1N1 strains. With its overall efficacy found to be lower than the flu shot it was deemed a less ideal option than the shot.
FluMist is a live attenuated vaccine that is not recommended in infants and pregnant women. It’s indicated for those between the ages of 2-49 and introduces a live, weakened version of the flu virus to incite an immune response. This differs from the injectable flu vaccine which uses killed versions of the flu strains to induce a flu response.
Children prefer the FluMist as the nasal spray offers a less painful option than an injection.
The FluMist Quadrivalent nasal spray, manufactured by MedImmune of AstraZeneca PLC, offers protection against 4 strains of flu including H1N1, H3N2 and two influenza B strains. According to FluMist’s prescribing information, the FluMist proved 90% effective against H3N2 as opposed to influenza B where it scored 44.3% effectiveness. Another review found its efficacy against H3N2 to be 79%.
Now that’s not to say the FluMist would have been immune to the vaccine issues experienced with this year’s flu shot as H3N2 is a highly virulent and mutable virus, and could have snowed the FluMist vaccine makers as well.
Yet we may need to consider that the FluMist may be more efficacious for some strains of the flu whereas the flu shot may better protect us against others. More research needs to be done in this area. As of now choosing which flu shot to get for the next flu season may be a crap shoot.
The Flu season of 2017 Holidays and early 2018 is different. H3N2, a subtype of influenza A, has been around for years but it mutated in 2014-2015 and during that flu season the mutated strain caused the majority of influenza in the United States. H3N2 is more easily spread by just being beside a person breathing within six feet. The inoculum or, load of virus, needed to infect is small, and it grows rapidly in lung tissue. This process can cause secondary lobar bacterial pneumonia rapidly putting somebody into respiratory failure, ICU, ventilator dependent or quickly become fatal. The vaccine is useless, because the new H3N2 genetics is not tracked by the current vaccine. Vaccines only create antibody to tag the pathogenic virus, and do not kill it. Only your activated T-Lymphocytes and Granulocytes kill pathogens with singlet free radical oxygen.
So what is the solution? In public places with high prevalence of influenza, wearing a Niosh N95 mask helps to protect airways. Use antipathogenic wipes that destroy the viral capsids of RNA and DNA viruses and pathogenic bacterial cell walls. Remember to keep the wipes in a Ziploc for protection. Taking natural antipathogenics to prevent viruses from attaching to cell receptors of airways, eyes, and mouth; and killing viruses before they gain a foothold and migrate to your lungs or gastrointestinal tracts.
Dr. Bill Deagle is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. Dr. Bill Deagle, MD is a member of the AAEM (American Academy of Emergency Medicine), ACAM (American College of Sports Medicine) and A4M (American Anti-Aging Association). His radio program, The NutriMedical Report, is nationally syndicated M-F from 2:00 pm -5:00 pm CST here at GCN. Dr. Bills range of nutraceuticals can be found here. For additional audio and video content with amazing material on health, geopolitics, the military, technology and conservative issues visit Deagle-Network.com. All email consults are FREE.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reports the flu increases one’s risk for a heart attack by six within the first week.
Study author Dr. Jeff Kwong, a family physician and epidemiologist from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario, and his colleagues looked at 20,000 adults who were diagnosed (and lab confirmed) with the flu in Ontario from 2009 – 2014. Of these adults, 332 had a heart attack, either the year before, after or during the flu. Heart attack risk was 6 times higher the week of the flu and was elevated in those older than 65.
Many of the individuals had cardiac risk factors (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) illustrating if one is at risk for a heart attack, a cardiac event may be more likely to occur if they get the flu.
This isn’t the first time a link between heart attack and flu has been suggested. In 2007, Meade et al found a bout with the flu to double the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Their theory was the flu dislodged fatty deposits sitting along the arteries, allowing them to travel to the coronary arteries or those in the brain resulting in a heart attack and stroke respectively.
Another theory is the cardiac risk factors may worsen during the flu. Blood sugars are difficult to control, hence fats in the blood will follow, and blood pressure may be affected when one is battling an infection.
Inflammation has been linked to heart attack, thus inflammation resulting from the flu may also be a culprit.
The study authors wrote, “Cardiovascular events triggered by influenza are potentially preventable by vaccination.” The flu shot this year has been projected to only be 30% effective against this season’s active strains but is still being recommended this season as hospitalizations and deaths from the flu are reaching record numbers.
A heart attack occurs when part of the heart muscle fails to receive the blood and oxygen it needs. This can occur by arteries supplying the heart muscle to become blocked. Coronary artery disease can be caused by plaque build up from fats, sugars, calcium, fibrin that settle on the blood vessel wall. These plaques can build up and occlude the lumen, obstructing blood flow.
Additionally a heart attack can occur when an unstable plaque rips off, tearing the blood vessel lining causing the body to form an immediate clot. This clot can also be deadly as it obstructs the lumen as well.
Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:
Family history of heart disease
Personal history of heart disease
High Blood Pressure
Males over 40
Females who are postmenopausal
and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.
As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease. Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.
Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:
Maintain a normal blood pressure
Maintain normal blood sugar
Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels
Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
Maintain a healthy weight.