Packed emergency rooms, deaths as flu hits California hard

Flu shot immunization innoculation influenza health syringe needles

"We are now in the midst of a very active flu season with much of the nation experiencing widespread and intense activity", CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald told reporters during a briefing.

Health Department officials report that three people have died from flu complications in Allegheny County in the past week.

The worst flu season in years is only getting worse, with 49 states now seeing widespread misery, USA health officials report.

Kendall says flu season generally begins with influenza A and ends with influenza B, but this year, the strains are being detected in fairly equal numbers early in the season. "Today alone we've seen 5-6 Tamiflu prescriptions come in and last flu season between October to January we filled only two Tamiflu prescriptions so a huge increase this year".

"We have a lot of flu season to get through still", Jernigan said.

To make matters worse, the vaccine may only be about 30 percent effective against that strain. That is better than the 10 percent effectiveness reported in Australia, which has its flu season before the United States does and often predicts what will happen in this country. But most people in California and the rest of the country are catching a particularly unsafe strain of influenza that the vaccine typically doesn't work well against.

Still, H3N2 is the far nastier strain, and tends to be very bad news for the very young and the very old.

John-haggie-midwives
Health Minister John Haggie says Newfoundland and Labrador has had 16 lab-confirmed cases of the flu so far this season

"We strongly discourage visitors at this time", she said.

The vaccine may be less effective against H3N2 strains because it's manufactured in chicken eggs, which some recent research has shown interact with H3 strains, making them less like the circulating strain and therefore less effective.

Kris Ehresmann, the Health Department's director of infectious disease, says Minnesotans should get their flu shot now if they haven't already.

The CDC cautioned Friday that we could still have three months left in flu season.

According to CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, "While our flu vaccines are far from flawless, they are the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu, and it is not too late to get one".

At UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, the emergency room saw more than 200 patients on at least one day, mostly because of the flu.


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