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Pediatric deaths increase to 53 as US suffers from influenza outbreak — CDC

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The United States is facing worst flu outbreak in a decade.

Federal health officials said that at least 16 more children died of the flu over the past week and more states are reporting high levels of illness.

Based on the latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the winter season, 53 children have died and flu-related hospital admissions are at an all-time high.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Grady Memorial hospital opened a temporary mobile emergency room enclosed in plastic tents to handle a 25 percent increase in visits in the month of January.

“We really need to bring in additional resources, and it really needs to be the best that it can be for our patients.” said medical director Dr. Hany Atallah.

The dominant strain during this flu season is called influenza a or H3N2 that in seasons past was linked with severe disease and death, especially in the elderly and young.

“The very old and the very young are the group that tends to be in the most danger of catching the flu,” said the director.

In January this year, New York already has 7, 779 flu-positive patients according to the New York state department. In Presbyterian Hospital, health measures are strictly implemented to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We promote and administer seasonal influenza vaccine to all our staff and patient. We added standard on droplet precautions. That’s very important. the most important is to wear a mask and wash your hands,” said Roberta Torre, a registered nurse at Presbyterian Hospital.

The United States is now 10 weeks into the current flu season, which is expected to last for at least several more weeks.

CDC continues to recommend the flu vaccine, not only to prevent flu but potentially lessen its severity. Strains of the flu with greater vaccine susceptibility are expected to become more common as the season progresses, according to the agency. — Reuters

 

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DOH warns of fatal effects of flu

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Influenza or flu is common nowadays as the northeast monsoon or amihan prolongs drop in temperature in the country.

Flu differs from common cough and cold since it is accompanied with high fever and muscle pain that last for days.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), flu season starts from the month of October to February.

But the DOH warns of the severe effects or complications that flu can cause to the human body which can be fatal if not immediately attended to.

“Binabantayan natin kung ano iyong strain at talagang by middle of the year nagbabakuna na tayo. Sa Pilipinas ang peak lang talaga ng flu-like illnesses itong panahon ng malamig,” explained Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.

“Ang nakakatakot lang kasi na gusto nating ma- prevent iyong mga flu na nagkakaroon ng complication. Kasi maaari siyang mauwi sa pneumonia at of course maaaring in the end makamatay,” the health official warned.

In view of the possible outbreak, the DOH reminds the public to keep protected by strengthening the immune system.

Take vitamin C shots and more fluids like orange juice and six to eight glasses of water every day.

Sleep at least six to eight hours a day and make sure to exercise and eat fruits and vegetables.

Make it a habit to wear face mask especially when in crowded places or when travelling to avoid contracting flu virus.

Based on DOH records, flu cases in the country has declined this year as compared to the same period last year considering that the flu strain detected last year was stronger than those being monitored this year.

“Worrisome ang flu last year. Medyo matapang iyong flu last year hindi lang sa Pilipians kundi sa ibang bansa sa Amerika, sa Hong Kong. It was a virulent strain last year,” noted Domingo.

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that the flu has become one of the severe health threats in the world this year.

The DOH advises parents to make sure their children get a complete set of vaccination to be well-protected.

Meanwhile, senior citizens may also avail of free flu shots in barangay health centers and DOH accredited hospitals. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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Winter storm cancels U.S. flights; injures airline passenger, crew member

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, December 28th, 2018

Traffic lights in blizzard in Farjo, North Dakota on December 27, 2018  | REUTERS

A blizzard that has already canceled or delayed thousands of airline flights and injured a passenger and crew member on a commercial jet over the Dallas area could dump nearly a foot more snow in some states, forecasters said on Thursday (December 27).

Parts of the U.S. Midwest and Southeast were being hit with the first wave of heavy snow and rain expected in the central United States through the weekend, according to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

A passenger and a flight attendant suffered knee and back pain after an American Eagle flight operated by Mesa Airlines hit turbulence over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, American Airlines said in a statement.

Flight 5781, a Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft that departed from San Luis Potosi International Airport in Mexico carrying 75 passengers and 4 crew members, was diverted to Austin, Texas.

The plane landed safely and the injured passenger and crew member were treated and released from a local hospital in Austin, the airline said.

In the Midwest, winter storm and blizzard warnings were in effect for parts of Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, the National Weather Service said.

The storm, which began late on Wednesday, contributed to the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights and delayed another 4,200. Nearly 400 flights to or from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were canceled, with hundreds delayed.

A tornado watch for parts of central and southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas were in effect on Thursday. — Reuters

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Flu increases the risk of heart attack

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2018

 

FILE PHOTO: A mother and her son wear protective masks in Mexico City April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar

(Reuters Health) – Influenza is already known to be deadly, but a new study suggests that the risk of heart attack is six times greater than normal while people are ill with the flu.

“I was a little bit surprised by the strength of the association. It’s not every day you see a six-fold increase in the risk during the first seven days of lab-confirmed influenza,” chief author Dr. Jeffrey Kwong told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. “We were also surprised the risk dropped off to nothing by day 8 and beyond.”

He and his Canadian team also found that other respiratory diseases can also increase the chance of a heart attack, but not as nearly as dramatically.

The group, reporting in The New England Journal of Medicine, did not examine whether flu-associated heart attacks are deadlier.

The new study reinforces the importance of the flu vaccine and protective measures such as regular hand washing to guard against influenza and other infections, said Dr. Kwong, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.

Doctors have suspected a link between flu and heart attacks since the 1930s, but in that era it was hard to know if the influenza virus or a flu-like illness had made a patient sick prior to the heart attack.

Kwong and his colleagues used confirmed cases of flu, analyzing 364 heart attacks from mid-2008 through mid-2015 among Ontario residents age 35 or older who were registered with the province’s publicly funded health insurance program.

The heart attack rate was 20.0 admissions per week during the seven days after diagnosis of the flu, versus 3.3 per week during the 52 weeks before and 51 weeks after that seven-day window.

The risk dropped off dramatically by the eighth day after diagnosis.

Dr. Erica Jones, director of the HeartHealth Program at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who was not connected with the study, said the results aren’t surprising based on her experience with hospitalized heart attack patients.

“This time of year we frequently had people on the floor after the flu,” she told Reuters Health by phone. “It was often associated with pneumonia.”

The flu “is a stressor to the system. It can increase inflammation. When you get an infection your heart is beating faster. It can activate platelets, increasing the chance that blood clots will form in the arteries that serve the heart. All of these can increase the chance of having a heart attack,” Dr. Kwong said.

Among the 332 people in the study who developed at least one heart attack while recovering from the flu, 69 percent had not received a flu shot. For 76 percent, it was their first heart attack, technically known as an acute myocardial infarction.

The heart attack risk increased slightly for adults over 65 and for people infected with influenza type B. But those increases were not statistically significant. The risk was 10 times higher with influenza B, five times higher with influenza A (the most common type during that period), 3.5 times greater for respiratory syncytial virus and nearly three times higher for other viruses.

The study “should not be interpreted as evidence of a lack of vaccine effectiveness, because this study was not designed to evaluate the effectiveness of influenza vaccines,” the researchers said. “Rather, since vaccination of adults is only approximately 40% to 60% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza infection, this study shows that if vaccinated patients have influenza of sufficient severity to warrant testing, their risk of acute myocardial infarction is increased to a level that is similar to that among unvaccinated patients.”

“We can’t say it enough – get a flu shot,” said Dr. Jones. “Even if the flu shot isn’t perfect, it may protect at least somewhat and the flu could be less severe, although this study didn’t address that. Also, wash your hands all the time and stay away from people who you know are sick.”

And if you get the flu, “don’t ignore symptoms” that might suggest a heart attack, she said. “Chest pains, shortness of breath might be more than you think.”

The time it takes for the flu to produce symptoms is about 1.4 days after infection with influenza A and 0.6 days with influenza B. Once symptoms begin, it only takes a day or two for them to peak.

The researchers cautioned that the people in their study were not suffering from mild flu symptoms.

“These are people who are sick enough to see a doctor and the doctor was worried enough to actually swab the patient” to test for the virus, said Dr. Kwong. “We don’t know if these results apply to people who have milder infections.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2FU4ylA The New England Journal of Medicine, online January 24, 2018.

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