H3N2v – Another Swine Flu

9 08 2012

Last summer, there were a dozen reported cases of an influenza A variant virus called H3N2v. This strain comes from pigs. As of today, the official CDC count is 145 cases reported, with a big surge seen in July 2012.

The CDC will report the number of confirmed cases every Friday and that number of 145 is expected to increase tomorrow, 10 August, as the CDC gets more reports from the states.

Because the states are now able to confirm cases without waiting for CDC’s confirmation, the states will always have the most current numbers.

This surge is thought primarily to be connected to agricultural fairs being held around the country.

Before 2007, there were one or two cases reported each year. After that time, and until 2010, there were maybe half a dozen cases reported each year due to improved diagnostics provided to the states.

CDC’s Dr. Joseph Bresee of the Influenza Division says that most of those infected have had direct or indirect exposure to infected pigs, although there have been limited numbers of human-to-human transmission.

Over 90 percent of the infected have been children. Children tend to be the ones that care for the pigs at the fairs, and it may be that while adults have had exposure to H3 viruses and that has given them some antibody protection, the children have no such antibodies.

The symptoms are typical of seasonal influenza and the cases so far have been mild, with a total of five individuals hospitalized since July 2011.

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone has a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

There have been no deaths, and those hospitalized have been released and are well. More hospitalizations are expected for those with high risk conditions.

There is no evidence that there is sustained efficient human-to-human transmission, and it’s not a pandemic situation, but the CDC is monitoring the situation.

Large numbers of agricultural fairs are ongoing in the US, and pigs are the primary source of infection, so it’s recommend that those attending such fairs:

  • Wash hand frequently before and after exposure to animals
  • Don’t eat or drink around animals
  • Keep away from sick pigs
  • If one is at high risk of seasonal flu, avoid exposure to swine completely when going to fairs

If you have flu symptoms following direct exposure to swine, tell your doctor about that exposure so that antivirals may be considered.

The H3N2v strain is not in the seasonal flu vaccine, but get vaccinated to protect yourself against the other strains of influenza.

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of The Portland Press Herald





Flu’s Gonna Lose

13 10 2011

Medical historians believe that influenza became a human disease about 6,000 years ago. Despite the enormous scientific, medical and technological sophistication we enjoy today, influenza, combined with pneumonia, is a leading cause of death in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says:

Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-related deaths in the United States range from a low of 3,000 people to a high of about 49,000 people. Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from the flu, including an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years of age.

The 2009-2010 flu season is an example of how unpredictable flu can be. That season followed the emergence of a new H1N1 influenza virus in the spring of 2009. This virus caused the first influenza pandemic (global outbreak of disease) in more than 40 years. Thousands of healthy children and adults had to visit the doctor or were hospitalized from flu complications.

As individuals, we want to protect ourselves against a largely preventable disease. As a community, we must get vaccinated to protect our youngest and oldest citizens—those most at risk not only for infection, but for the complications that can arise from infection.

If you’re wanting some materials or ideas for this flu season, we’ve developed a program that may be used by anyone wishing to promote flu vaccination.

PKIDs’ Flu’s Gonna Lose campaign urges family and community members to spread the health by refusing the opportunity to experience the vagaries of this deadly disease and instead, offer up an arm to immunization, wash our hands, cover our coughs and sneezes, and stay home to stop the spread of disease.

There are many free materials, both branded and unbranded, available for download from our website, including:

If you have any educational materials to share with others, will you provide URLs in the comments? Sharing ideas and materials is a great way to make our budgets stretch.

Adapted from PKIDs’ website





Flu Shot Already?

29 08 2011

It’s so easy to get flu vaccinations these days. My daughters and I were grocery shopping and we were immunized between the bacon and the frozen pizza aisles.

OK, I confess I didn’t tell my 12-year-old what we were going to do. I lured her to the store with promises of cantaloupe and pepperoni sticks (don’t judge) and slipped in the visit to the pharmacy mid-store. My 15-year-old was happy to get her shot because she had H1N1 last year and is determined never to get the flu again as long as she lives.

Does it seem weird to anyone else to get a flu shot in August? The upside is, there are no lines, and the shot takes a couple of weeks to kick in, so getting it sooner rather than later is a good idea.

Obviously, influenza is on my mind. I was browsing YouTube for flu vaccination videos and came across this one from Australia. What do you think? We need to mix it up a bit. Does this do the trick?

By Trish Parnell

Video courtesy Government of South Australia





Multi-Language Flu Information

24 01 2011

How many times have you been confused by the information (or misinformation) about influenza? Just sorting symptoms, risk factors, vaccination information, and different strains can be a bit of a challenge. Now imagine that you don’t speak the language in which the information is written. Not easy, to say the least.

The CDC’s flu.gov website has a helpful page, “Flu Essentials – What You Need To Know” – with everything you need to know in various languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Russian, Tagalog, Korean and Vietnamese.

The page links to information sheets that one can print out, and the info sheets cover topics such as “People with Asthma,” “Emergency Warning Signs,” “Pregnancy,” “10 Ways You Can Stay Healthy at Work,” and more.

Everyone is entitled to make an informed decision when it comes to their health and parents must do so on behalf of their children. If you or someone you know could use this important information in a language other than English, be sure to share this blog with them!

¿Cuántas veces ha sido confundido por la información (o información incorrecta) sobre la influenza? Sólo clasificar los síntomas, factores de riesgo, la información de la vacunación, y las tipos diferentes pueden ser un poco un difícil de entender. Ahora imagine que usted no habla el idioma en que está escrita la información.? No es fácil, por decir lo menos.

El CDC tiene una página web, “Fundamentos de la gripe – Lo que usted necesita saber” – con todo lo que necesita saber en varios idiomas, incluyendo español, francés, alemán, italiano, árabe, ruso, tagalo, coreano y vietnamita.

La página le lleva a las hojas de información que se puede imprimir, y las hojas de información cubren temas tales como “Las personas con asma”, “Señales de Alerta de Emergencia”, “Embarazo”, “10 maneras de cuidar su salud en el trabajo , “y mucho más.

Cada uno tiene derecho a tomar una decisión informada cuando viene a su salud y los padres deben hacerlo en nombre de sus niños. ¡Si usted o alguien que usted sabe podría utilizar esta información importante en un idiomia distinto del inglés, esté seguro de compartir este acoplamiento con éllos!





Got Flu?

13 12 2010

Dr. Mary Beth, PKIDs’ advice nurse, helps you get through nasty influenza.

Listen now!

Right-click here to download podcast (6mins/2.5mb)





Pregnant Women and Infants: Flu Targets

15 11 2010

(courtesy of CDC)

The first and second U.S. deaths from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic were in a 22-month-old child and a 33-year old pregnant woman. These deaths were a sad sign of the toll this pandemic would take on young children and pregnant women. While pregnant women and young children have been considered at “high risk of flu-related complications” for years, 2009 H1N1 flu hit them really hard.

The risk from flu is greater for pregnant women because pregnancy can reduce the ability of the lungs and the immune system to work normally. This can be bad for both mother and baby. According to a study done during the first month of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the rate of hospitalizations was four times higher in pregnant women than other groups. Also, although pregnant women are about 1% of the U.S. population, they made up about 5% of U.S. deaths from 2009 H1N1 reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from April 14 – August 21, 2009.

Young children, whose immune systems are still developing, are also at-risk for flu-related complications. Each year about 100 flu-related deaths in children are thought to occur in the U.S. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, more than 300 deaths in children were reported to CDC. CDC believes that many more deaths in children may have gone unrecognized or unreported.

Experts think the 2009 H1N1 virus will be around again this flu season. In fact, one of the three parts of this season’s flu vaccine will protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus. While CDC is now encouraging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated against the flu, there is a special message for pregnant women and parents: “Don’t pass up this easy way to protect yourself and your children against the flu,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“Getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy can reduce the risk of getting the flu while pregnant and after,” says Dr. Schuchat. “And babies younger than six months can get very sick from flu, but are too young to get vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to have their caregivers and close contacts vaccinated.”

Seasonal flu shots have been given safely to millions of pregnant women and children over many years.  Though there is no proof that thimerosal (a preservative) is harmful to a pregnant woman, their babies, or young children, some worry about it. So, as before, vaccine companies are making plenty of preservative-free flu vaccine as an option for pregnant women and small children.

Usually worse than the common cold, the flu can cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and weakness. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. Pregnant women and parents of children younger than two years of age should call their doctor or nurse right away if they, or their children, become sick. A doctor can prescribe flu antiviral drugs.

Vaccination continues to be the best protection. Get yourself—and all of your children 6 months of age and older—vaccinated against the flu to keep all family members healthy this flu season. One shot will last all flu season, even if you get it early in the season.

For more information, talk to your doctor or contact CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO or www.cdc.gov.





Chronic health condition? Get a flu shot!

8 11 2010

(courtesy of CDC)

If you are one of the millions of Americans with a long-term health condition like asthma, diabetes, stroke, heart or lung disease, this important information about flu applies to you. When combined with your existing health condition, the flu increases your risk of becoming seriously sick, which could result in an unexpected and expensive trip to the hospital—or even death.

“We have known for years that flu is a serious disease, especially for people with certain chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC’s Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

These health conditions include asthma (even if controlled by medication), lung disease, heart disease, neurologic conditions (like stroke and other conditions related to the nervous system, brain or spinal cord), blood disorders, endocrine disorders (like diabetes, both type 1 and type 2), kidney disorders, liver disorders or weakened immune systems.

The burden of flu on people with these conditions was demonstrated last flu season, as the world faced its first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. Most of the deaths from 2009 H1N1 were in people who had at least one health condition. People with long-term health conditions also were more likely to be hospitalized. CDC estimates that nearly 60 percent of children and more than 85 percent of adults hospitalized with 2009 H1N1 had one or more long-term health conditions or were pregnant.

Of those admitted to the hospital with 2009 H1N1 illness, asthma was the most common long-term health condition followed by diabetes, chronic cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pregnancy, neurological disorders (including stroke or seizure disorders in adults), and neuromuscular disorders. People who were morbidly obese (extremely overweight) also appeared to be at higher risk for severe 2009 H1N1 in some studies.

Experts expect that 2009 H1N1 will be back next season along with other, regular flu viruses. The message is clear: people with long-term health conditions should take action to protect themselves against the flu by getting a flu vaccine. This season’s vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1 and two other flu viruses. Safe, reliable flu vaccines have been made for decades, and you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.

Millions of Americans are impacted by these conditions, although many people don’t know that they have a long-term health condition. For example, diabetes impacts an estimated 23.6 million Americans, but 5.7 million people (24 percent of those who have the disease in the United States) don’t even know they have it. Heart disease affects an estimated 26.6 million Americans. And asthma affects 23.4 million Americans. Ask your doctor whether you have a health condition that makes you more vulnerable to flu. If you do, be sure you get a flu vaccine.

Symptoms of flu include fever (though not everyone with flu will have a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through the coughing, sneezing, or talking of someone with the flu. Flu viruses may also spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too.

For more information, visit www.flu.gov, www.cdc.gov/flu, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).