Flu Season Poses Deadly Threat to Youth

The flu shot is the best way to prevent getting the flu.

Wikipedia Commons

The flu shot is the best way to prevent getting the flu.

Kennah Salvo, Staff Reporter

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects extensive data on flu statistics every season and as of March 5, 114 children from infancy to 17 years old died from flu related causes in the 2017 to 2018 season. That’s more than the previous two seasons, which topped out at 93 and 110 deaths respectively.

These deaths often affect children with pre-existing conditions whose immune systems are already spent. Most of the time, the major complication is a bacterial infection of the lungs known as bacterial pneumonia.

“Right now, one of the biggest health threats we are facing is influenza,” the CDC said in a press release. “Flu is incredibly complex and difficult to predict.”

There are many strains of the flu virus, such as the H1N1 or the H3N2, which is what makes it so hard to combat. This season, H3N2 is the most dominant strain.

“The best way to combat [the flu] is to get a flu shot, to get vaccinated against it,” Southern Lehigh High School nurse Ms. Barbara Bracalente said.

A flu vaccine is a weak version of the virus injected in order to teach the body how to properly combat the virus. Before the vaccine is distributed, the World Health Organization (WHO) examines data from clinical studies, surveillance, and laboratories in order to determine the best composition for the vaccine.

If you catch the flu despite having gotten the vaccine, or as a result of having not gotten the vaccine, there are ways to fight against the illness itself and prevent contaminating others.

In a press release the CDC recommends, “you frequently wash your hands, and, to reduce spreading infections, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Antiviral medications are another tool in the fight against flu.”

One such antiviral medicine is Tamiflu, which must be taken within 48 hours of first noticing symptoms in order to most effectively battle the virus. Tamiflu can also be used as a preventative measure.

“The best thing to do is not come to school or to work, stay home, and see your physician,” Nurse Bracalente said. “What you will be told is treat your symptoms, [and] if you are feverish, [use] tylenol and ibuprofen. If you are achy, same thing: get fluids and rest.”