By Jason KUROSU
Influenza remains active nationwide with a flu season that has been deemed an epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control recently announced the flu’s epidemic status, with at least 7.3% of deaths in the country reported as a result of influenza or pneumonia.
In a Jan. 11 media conference, the CDC provided updates on the status of influenza’s nationwide spread.
“The bottom line: it’s flu season,” said Tom Frieden, CDC director. “Most of the country is seeing or has seen a lot of flu and this may continue for a number of weeks.”
Frieden emphasized that studying the trends and rates of influenza won’t necessarily establish a predictable pattern for how much the virus may spread or decline.
“The only thing predictable about flu is that it’s unpredictable,” he said.
The CDC provided a three-step guide to prevent contracting the flu in a separate release, recommending the flu vaccine, taking action to prevent the spread of germs (everyday actions such as avoiding close contact with sick people and washing one’s hands often) and taking antiviral drugs should they be prescribed by a doctor.
Frieden touted the effectiveness of the seasonal influenza vaccine, saying vaccination would make one “62% less likely to need to go to your doctor to get treated for flu.”
“Vaccination is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself,” said Frieden. “Again, vaccination is far from perfect, but it’s by far the best tool we have to prevent influenza.”
There have been reports of vaccine shortages around the country, though according to Verdugo Hills Hospital spokeswoman Celine Petrossian, the hospital has not experienced any such shortages.
Petrossian also reported that there has been about a 15% increase in patients with flu-like symptoms at the hospital, compared to this time last year.
Allison Yim, a pediatrician based in Pasadena, said she has not seen many patients coming in with clear-cut influenza symptoms, but conceded that this year’s flu season has not peaked yet, with the peak months usually occurring in January and February.
“I may have seen one to two patients that probably had influenza but were not tested or came in too late for treatment. Usually if you are going to treat a patient with an antiviral medication you need to start within 48 hours of symptoms starting,” she said.
Yim also recommended getting the vaccine.
“We recommend all patients aged 6 months to 18 years of age to get the vaccine. It usually takes up to two weeks to develop antibodies once you receive the vaccine. For adult patients, it is recommended that everyone 18 years of age and up get vaccinated.”
For more information on the flu, consult the CDC’s website at
www.cdc.gov or Verdugo Hills Hospital’s flu information hotline at (818) 949-4003.