Rutgers professor discusses flu season
This flu season, which began on Oct. 1 2019, is continuing to affect a large number of Americans, according to an article from NJ Advance Media. In New Jersey, approximately 3,600 flu cases have been reported and two children died.
David Cennimo, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said the flu is widespread in New Jersey compared to other states according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to an article on Rutgers Today.
“The hallmarks are the predominance of the Influenza B strain and how early the outbreaks started this year,” Cennimo said, according to the article. “At this time, the current activity is higher than the average of the three highest recent seasons.”
Cennimo said the current levels of flu are similar to the average levels in February, but it is unknown if the outbreak will continue to grow or if it has reached its peak, according to the article. He also said it is difficult to tell if the viruses will develop a resistance to this year’s vaccines, but there has not been any evidence of this yet.
“The CDC does look at sample viruses from varied locations to determine how similar they are to the strains in this year’s vaccine. So far, the matches for the H1N1 and B/Yamagata strain are quite strong,” Cennimo said. “As in past years, the similarities between the circulating H3N2 and its vaccine component are not as strong, but this does not necessarily mean the vaccine won’t work.”
Children and young adults are more susceptible to the Influenza B/Victoria strain, Cennimo said.
“It accounts for 46 percent of reported viruses in children up to 5 and 58 percent in people age 5 to 24,” Cennimo said, according to the article.
The flu can result in other illnesses such as sinus and ear infections, Cennimo said, according to the article. More serious, sometimes life-threatening complications include inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues, pneumonia, kidney failure and respiratory failure.
Those affected by the flu can avoid these complications by being mindful of the symptoms. Cennimo said people experiencing fever, chills, congestion, body aches or fatigue, among other things, should contact a doctor, according to the article.
“A doctor can prescribe medication to treat the flu. It is most effective if started within the first 48 hours of symptoms, so it’s important to call as soon as flu is suspected,” Cennimo said, according to the article.
The best way to stay healthy is to get vaccinated, according to the article.
“Even if you think you had the flu already, it is possible to get a second infection with a different strain, so immunization can still be beneficial,” Cennimo said, according to the article. “The vaccination can reduce symptoms and duration even if you get the flu.”
In a University-wide email sent on Jan. 23, Melodee Lasky, assistant vice chancellor for Health and Wellness, said vaccinations can help curtail the spread of the flu and reminded students to maintain healthy practices as the outbreak continues.
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