The flu has hit hard this year. If you’ve not been affected, you should consider yourself lucky at best, while preparing yourself at worst. According to health officials, this year’s season is the worst on record since those records were started 13 years ago. The bug has caused more hospitalizations than any time in the last decade. At the end of January, 16 children died, bringing the total for the season to 53, although that reported number may be lower than what is accurate.
Officials are saying that this year’s round of illness is unusual because of its widespread activity across the country. Instead of traveling slowly, the flu has hit nearly every state at the exact same time, and it has hit hard. In fact, hospital visits due to this flu season are about four times greater than they were during the 2014-2015 season.
The predominant strain of this year’s flu is H3N2. It’s the one that causes the worst of the outbreaks. When this strain dominates, more people are seen in hospitals and more deaths occur. Those who are particularly at risk are young children and those with weakened immune systems. The elderly and people with certain health conditions are also at a higher risk.
The symptoms people are experiencing this year are no different than in years past. People with the flu may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
When the first symptoms hit, people can reasonably expect to get better in less than two weeks. Unfortunately, some patients develop complications that may require hospitalization. In the worst cases, these complications result in death.
The flu vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone that is 6 months of age or older. The vaccine takes approximately two weeks to kick in and produce the desired immune response. While the vaccination may not prevent the flu entirely, it can reduce symptoms and the duration of the illness. It can also reduce the instance of complications that require hospitalization.
Many people who receive the flu vaccine complain that they still came down with the illness. This is because health officials have to essentially guess which strains to vaccinate against. It’s not to say that officials don’t use research and knowledge to determine which strains to fight against, but they can make mistakes and misjudgments. Even when officials get it right, the vaccine has a lower effect against H3N2.
Health officials are urging anyone who has not received a flu vaccine to do so. H1N1 is showing up in states that have already been dealing with H3N2. This means that the flu season is far from over, and the next strain to hit may be less able to withstand the powers of vaccination.
Whether you choose to be vaccinated against the flu or not, one of the most important things to do is to wash your hands with soap and water frequently. If someone in your house has the flu, isolate their toothbrush. Once that person is healthy, they should be cleaning their teeth with a new brush.
Another thing you can do is to wash bedding frequently. If someone is ill and you share a bed with that person, move to another room while the person is sick. If you have nowhere else to sleep, change the bedding every few days, especially pillowcases. Launder bath towels at least every other day.
Lastly, keep the things commonly touched in the household wiped down. This includes remote controls, light switches and keyboards. Antibacterial wipes are easy to find and should be kept in the home for just this purpose.
It may not be the flu itself that is killing people. It is often the complications caused by the virus that ultimately lead to death. For example, an otherwise healthy person who contracts the flu virus, through the nose or mouth, shows typical symptoms of the flu. The virus then begins to make copies of itself and implants in mucous membranes. The copies push out healthy cells and materials, weakening the body’s protection. Without that protection, the bronchial tubes allow the bacteria to enter the lungs, where they settle and cause bacterial pneumonia.
The state of Florida has been hit as hard as the rest of the country when it comes to the flu. Most recently, a 12-year-old boy exhibited symptoms of what his mother thought was a cold for only two days before his death. That child had not been vaccinated against the virus.
In California, a 12-year-old girl succumbed to the virus after being misdiagnosed at a local urgent care center. The child was diagnosed with the flu and her mother kept her home from school to rest. Just four days after her initial diagnosis, the girl was back at the urgent care center complaining that she couldn’t breathe. The child died on December 17 after her organs shut down.
The girl died of cardiac arrest which was brought on by septic shock. According to the CDC, there are more than 1 million cases of sepsis each year, killing more than 250,000 people annually. Had the child been properly diagnosed of sepsis, doctors may have been able to save her.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed in West Palm Beach and suffered further illness or even death as a result, reach out to our team of medical malpractice attorneys. We will review the details of your case during a free consultation and advise you of your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and more. Call our office today to schedule your case evaluation.