Update on the flu

We are already starting to see flu cases at Le Bonheur, and the current flu season is likely to be severe, says Pediatrician-in-Chief Jon McCullers, MD. The reason is two-fold:

1. This year’s flu strain, H3N2, is more aggressive, causing more hospitalizations and deaths than other flu strains
2. Half of the H3N2 strains are mutating, which means that vaccine protection is not as strong this year

“This happens several times each decade,” said McCullers. “Getting to your primary care doctor early in a flu-like illness to get checked out is important, since there are antiviral drugs that can shorten the course of the flu, make you feel better quicker, and prevent complications.”

Getting a flu vaccine is still important, too. The vaccine will still protect from other strains of flu and could also shorten the course of illness. As with any flu season, those at most risk for flu-related complications include:

  • younger than 2 years old
  • 65 or older
  • suffering from chronic disease —such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease —or have a suppressed immune system
  • pregnant
  • morbidly obese
  • residents of nursing homes or chronic-care facilities

For more information on the flu, check out our past post about on flu FAQs, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

infection, prevention