The flu is very unpredictable when it begins and in how it takes off - Harvey V. Fineberg
The term influenza, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is taken from the Italian word for occult or astral influence. Then as now, flu seemed to appear out of nowhere each winter, debilitating or killing large numbers of people, only to vanish in the spring. Today, seasonal flu is estimated to kill about 36,000 people in the United States each year, and half a million worldwide.
Yet the flu, in many important respects, remains mysterious. Determining how many deaths it really causes, or even who has it, is no simple matter. We think we have the flu anytime we fall ill with an ailment that brings on headache, malaise, fever, coughing, sneezing, and that achy feeling as if we’ve been sleeping on a bed of rocks, but researchers have found that at most half, and perhaps as few as 7 or 8 percent, of such cases are actually caused by an influenza virus in any given year. More than 200 known viruses and other pathogens can cause the suite of symptoms known as “influenza-like illness”; respiratory syncytial virus, bocavirus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus are just a few of the bugs that can make a person feel rotten. And depending on the season, in up to two-thirds of the cases of flu-like illness, no cause at all can be found.
Nobody knows precisely why we are much more likely to catch the flu in the winter months than at other times of the year. Perhaps it’s because flu viruses flourish in cool temperatures and are killed by exposure to sunlight. Or maybe it’s because in winter, people spend more time indoors, where a sneeze or a cough can more easily spread a virus to others. What is certain is that influenza viruses mutate with amazing speed, so each flu season sees slightly different genetic versions of the viruses that infected people the year before.
Source: Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, Excerpt from Does the Vaccine Matter? The Atlantic, November 2009 Issue
A frustrated nurse coming off a long shift in the emergency room shared a bit of unsolicited advice in a Facebook video over the weekend, warning people not to come to the “cesspool of funky flu at the ER” unless they really have to.
A growing number of U.S. hospitals now compel health care workers to get vaccinated against the flu and other infectious diseases to protect patients from communicable diseases.
Researchers hope their new approach, which works well in lab animals, may save more lives.
Labs around the country are hunting for a super-shot that could eliminate the annual fall vaccination in favor of one every five years or 10 years, or maybe, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last for life.
Arguably the biggest reason that Americans don’t seem to take the flu vaccine seriously is that it simply doesn’t live up to our expectations for what a vaccine is, and how it should work, said Dr. Pat Salber, founder of the healthcare blog The Doctor Weighs In.
“This is the first year we have had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph.” New strains may be coming.
We can do better.
Vaccines work by exposing us to non-infectious components of a virus — the viral antigens — that elicit an immune response. Regulators could encourage manufacturers to stop using chicken eggs and instead prepare vaccines in “cultured cells” — cells that are removed from animals and grown in controlled conditions. This method would produce vaccines with greater fidelity to the targeted flu strains.
In the U.S., the main lines of defense are pharmaceutical—vaccines and antiviral drugs to limit the spread of flu and prevent people from dying from it. Yet now some flu experts are challenging the medical orthodoxy and arguing that for those most in need of protection, flu shots and antiviral drugs may provide little to none.
Flu vaccinations have become an annual event in most developed countries, yet the flu continues to affect tens of millions of people each year and causes 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide. So, what's wrong? Is the flu virus smarter than us?
Are you feeling under the weather? How do you know if its the Flu or just the common cold? Are Flu Shots the ultimate solution? Brush up here on all you need to know about Flu and the Flu Shot!
World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.
More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.
The methods used to make flu vaccines are slow and sometimes unreliable, and new viruses threaten to outrun them. Can researchers find a way to stay ahead?
In a paper published in 2014 in Science, our research teams documented and deconstructed the failure of Google to predict flu prevalence.
Influenza (the flu) is serious. Each year in the United States, on average:
More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications;
36,000 people die from flu.
Flu.gov provides one-stop access to U.S. Government seasonal, H1N1 (swine), H5N1 (bird), H3N2, and pandemic flu information. Flu.gov aims to educate and guide.
Learn about the options for you and your loved ones and discover ways to stay healthy all year round.
Tracking Infectious Diseases since 2006.
The Immunization Action Coalition works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance the delivery of safe and effective immunization services.
There are a number of drugs approved by FDA for the treatment and prevention of influenza. Vaccination is the primary means of preventing and controlling influenza.
In September of 1918, soldiers at an army base near Boston suddenly began to die. The cause of death was identified as influenza, but it was unlike any strain ever seen. As the killer virus spread across the country, hospitals overfilled, death carts roamed the streets and helpless city officials dug mass graves. It was the worst epidemic in American history, killing over 600,000--until it disappeared as mysteriously as it had begun.
A medical textbook that provides a comprehensive overview of influenza
Influenza is a viral infection of the lungs characterized by fever, cough, and severe muscle aches. In the elderly and infirm, it is a major cause of disability and death (often as a result of secondary infection of the lungs by bacteria).
Influenza is a major cause of sickness and death around the world and is one of the most important infectious diseases confronting the world today. Combined with pneumonia, influenza is one of the ten leading causes of death in the United States. Even though most of its victims are elderly, pneumonia-influenza is one of the top-ten leading infectious conditions listed as causing years of potential life lost by the Centers for Disease Control.
The latest Flu News & Cold News & SARS News articles published daily. Includes news on influenza, the flu vaccine, pandemic preparedness, treatment options and current research.
Influenza: consumers, health professionals, media forum, vaccine for kids
Our organization believes that all patients, including healthcare workers, should be free and should have the right to refuse vaccines and medical procedures- particularly those that don't work and are being implemented at the expense of the healthcare worker. We are not anti-vaccine, but pro-choice in our fight for medical freedom in the workplace.
The Influenza Sequence Database contains all published influenza viral sequences, which have been curated by domain experts to ensure high standards of accuracy and completeness.
Mission of WHO is to
contribute to reducing death and disease due to annual influenza epidemics and
prepare for the next influenza pandemic.