influenza

A particularly bad flu virus is burning through Florida and health officials say people can still protect themselves—and others.

“Getting vaccinated can prevent flu in yourself, but it also may prevent flu in people who you are not infecting,” says Dr. Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Especially for young children or people who are at high risk of flu, it's very important that people around them are vaccinated.”

Health officials say the United States could have a harsher than usual flu season, and is already showing influenza activity above the national baseline for the first time this season.

Health officials are warning that the United States may have an unusually harsh flu season this year.

But they stress that flu seasons are notoriously difficult to predict, and it's far too early to know for sure what may happen.

Flu season is getting underway and health officials at all levels are sending out the word for people to get their vaccinations.

During the first week of the 2017-18 season – October 1-7 -- influenza activity remained at low levels across Florida. But it’s expected to increase heading into the fall and winter months.

“We usually say beginning at the end of September through the end of April,” says Dr. John Lanza, Director of the Florida Department of Health-Escambia County.

CDC

Influenza season is at its peak nationwide, and Florida is no exception. That's obvious on the map at the Centers for Disease Control website.

Clay County Health Department Officials are spreading the word: If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, now’s the time.

Northeast Florida, like most of the nation, is currently experiencing an elevated number of flu cases.


January is usually the midway point of the flu season in Florida. The state Department of Health reports that levels of the disease remained elevated overall for a second consecutive week.

Mild influenza activity was reported in 51 counties, including Escambia and Santa Rosa, during the week of January 1-7, the latest available figures. Ten counties reported moderate influenza activity, and six reported no activity.

It’s that time of year again.

Perhaps you recently went into a pharmacy or grocery store, spotted the sign reminding you to get your flu shot and said to yourself, “Nah.  I don’t need it.”

But if you’re in one of several high-risk groups, maybe an ounce of prevention . . . well, you know the rest.

In the following interview, WLRN Health Reporter Sammy Mack clears up some popular misconceptions about the flu shot. If after hearing it you are still doubting, then read our handy FAQ about the flu shot. 

FLU SHOT FAQ

Hospitals in Miami-Dade County are reporting increases in the amount of flu-related emergency room visits compared to a year ago, the Miami Herald reports. According to a report from the county Department of Health, 5.9 percent of ER visits between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3 were because of the flu. Last year at that time, the flu accounted for 3.6 percent of the ER visits in Miami-Dade, the Herald reports. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Florida is a major player in widespread influenza reported in 43 states so far this season.

Levels of transmission have reached epidemic proportions, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials say that a mutation in the flu virus may be to blame for the rising number of flu cases this year.

A slight change in the flu virus may be partially responsible for the increased flu activity this season, said Dr. David Berman, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at All Children's Hospital in St Petersburg.

A 6-year-old girl who nearly died after testing positive for influenza and strep was expected to make a full recovery, her doctors said Tuesday from the Miami hospital where she was being treated.

Victoria Bermudez was diagnosed in February. After being rushed to the emergency room, she went into cardiac arrest three times and her body went into septic shock, impacting her organs.

Central Florida health officials have confirmed another flu-related death, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The 63-year-old diabetic woman who died Wednesday is the third patient in Brevard County this year to succumb to the H1N1 strain of the virus. 

Nearly all of the Gainesville-area residents who died from flu this season didn’t have vaccinations. And flu shots may have prevented those illnesses, says the Gainesville Sun’s editorial board. A record number of school-age children in Alachua County were vaccinated last year, but the town’s huge population of college-age students also should be a priority for getting flu shots, the board said.

The Associated Press

Florida’s Medicaid program says it is providing free flu shots to as many as 75,000 additional pregnant women this season.

The state did away with fees late last week for 65,000 to 75,000 adult women enrolled in the Medicaid program, Michelle Dahnke, spokeswoman for the Agency for Health Care Administration, told Health News Florida.

The Florida Department of Health says flu season is picking up, placing pregnant women at high risk for serious illness. This week, 24 Florida counties have reported an increase in influenza cases, particularly the H1N1 swine flu, a dominant strain this season, the Palm Beach Post reports. The H1N1 swine flu caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009.
 

VA Cuts Paperwork, Offers Flu Shot Options

Dec 3, 2013

Veterans in Florida can now get a flu shot at any of more than 800 Walgreens locations and the drug store will electronically forward their immunization record to the VA.

It's a pilot program being tried out in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 8 (VISN8) which includes all of Florida, southern Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It requires no paper record, no remembering at your next VA health care appointment.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

In biology, you can't get much simpler than viruses.

They stick onto cells, pop open and then dump their genes inside to reproduce.

But the naming of viruses isn't so easy to follow.

Miami Herald

Florida is having one of the worst years for the flu, but health officials don’t think it will be as bad as the swine flu that hit in 2009-2010, the Miami Herald reports.