It appears that the flu virus for winter 2018, it set to be deadly. Doctors are comparing this year’s flu virus to the outbreak of 2014, except that it has started earlier and has spread at a faster rate. The strain of flu that is hitting the US-H3N2 is the same strain that recently caused havoc in Australia and was responsible for the four most deadly flu seasons in the last decade.
‘I’m anticipating this being a bad flu year,’ reported infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh, of the Mayo Clinic.
The above picture shows a flu-tracking image from the CDC, with the data showing more widespread illness than previous years.
The four most deadly flu seasons of the last 10 years — in the winters of 2003-2004, 2007-2008, 2012-2013, and 2014-15 — were H3N2 seasons, each with a mutated version of that flu type.
In 2014, 147 children died of flu – most of them from the H3N2 strain. At years’ end, the CDC declared an epidemic, with more than 20 deaths in the last month of 2014. As health officials scrambled to contain the outbreak, the CDC admitted that the 2014 flu vaccine did not protect well against H3N2 – It had only a 7% chance of protection.
This year appears to be a repeat.
‘The predominant strain appears to be the H3N2 strain. Those tend to result in more severe epidemics,’ Dr. Tosh explains.
‘Some of the early assessments of the vaccine from the Australia epidemic in their winter, our summer, suggest about a 10 percent vaccine efficacy which would then mean it was 10 percent effective in preventing the disease.’
‘We are seeing increased activity at this time, although we are nowhere near its peak.’
Official flu-season has begun once more than 2.2 percent of people have influenza symptoms. That point was reached last week.
While it is difficult to correctly calculate the number of deaths from influenza due to comorbidities, so far at least 370 people have died.