Update #2 as of December 5, 2012
National influenza vaccine week December 2-8.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that getting the flu shot is the best way to prevent serious illness from influenza. The CDC established National Influenza Vaccination Week to promote vaccine and help provide factual information about seasonal influenza vaccine. CDC and other sources indicate that the 2012-2013 vaccine is well matched to the circulating strains of influenza A: 2009 H1N1 and H3N2 as well as influenza B strain.
It’s not too late to get vaccinated.
The typical flu season reaches its peak around February, but flu cases are climbing quickly indicating an early start to season. The current CDC FluView indicates considerable increase in flu activity since our last report. The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Pregnant women, children, people greater than 65, and those with chronic medical conditions are considered to be at increased risk of serious illness from seasonal influenza. Despite controversy, the CDC recommends that healthcare workers be vaccinated against flu.
Boise, Idaho and Rochester, New York, are reporting deaths from flu. The recently reported deaths all involve people over 50 years of age. The baseline medical condition and flu vaccination status of the victims has not been publicly reported. The latest data from CDC (thru Nov 28, 2012) indicates no pediatric deaths attributed to flu. Other sources cite two pediatric deaths in the early start of the 2012-2013 flu season (see About.com Pediatrics for details).
A similar trend is reflected by Google Flu Trends this week. As of December 2, 2012, Flu Trends reflect a sharper rate of increase and higher case numbers early in this season than many previous years.
Google.org Flu Trends Graphic
Influenza is not the only virus out there.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS became headline material when it emerged as a Novel Coronavirus in 2003. Lacking a vaccine for the virus, emphasis was placed on non-pharmacological interventions to prevent spread of SARS.
In September 2012, another Novel Coronavirus began causing illness. Coronaviruses can cause a spectrum of illness ranging in severity from the common cold to SARS. According to the WHO Novel Coronavirus Infection update (30 Nov 2012) there has been a total of nine lab confirmed cases of infection with the novel coronavirus. Five of the cases and three deaths are in Saudi Arabia. Two cases reported in Qatar, two fatal cases reported in Jordan.