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Severe Flu Season, Tough Winter a Double Whammy for Blood Banks

Posted 1 day 8 hours ago by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Jan. 22, 2018 – A merciless flu season and lots of wintry weather are draining the U.S. blood supply, officials report. Since the beginning of the year, more than 500 American Red Cross blood drives have been canceled because of dangerous weather conditions. That means about 13,000 pints of blood and platelets went uncollected, according to the relief organization. To make matters worse, many people are not donating blood because they're laid up with the flu. Widespread outbreaks of flu are now being reported in most of the United States. "One unforeseen effect of this brutal flu season is a shortage of blood and platelets," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "We want patients who are suffering with flu and flu-like symptoms to defer blood donation until they are feeling well and fully recovered," he said. But people who've ... Read more

Related support groups: Influenza, Blood Transfusion, FluLaval, Influenza Prophylaxis, FluMist, Fluzone, Afluria, Vaccination and Prophlaxis, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Inactivated, Flublok, Flublok Quadrivalent, Fluogen, Flucelvax, Afluria Quadrivalent, Fluzone Intradermal, Fluvirin, Fluarix Quadrivalent, Fluvirin 2016-2017, Fluad, Fluzone PFS

How to Fight the Flu This Season

Posted 4 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 19, 2018 – The flu is causing widespread misery across the United States this winter, but the American Lung Association says there are things you can do to avoid being felled by the virus. In what is being described as the worst flu season in years, 49 states are now experiencing widespread activity. So far, only Hawaii and Washington, D.C., have been spared rapidly rising rates of reported infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The predominant strain this season, H3N2, is also more severe than its viral cousins. At least 20 children have already died from the flu this year, the CDC reports, and hospitalization rates are climbing quickly. And, the agency warned, the end is nowhere in sight: The flu season is expected to last for another 13 weeks. "The flu is more than just 'a bad cold.' It's a serious respiratory illness that's easily ... Read more

Related support groups: Cough, Influenza, Cold Symptoms, Sore Throat, Cough and Nasal Congestion, FluLaval, FluMist, Fluzone, Afluria, Vaccination and Prophlaxis, Flublok, Flublok Quadrivalent, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Inactivated, Fluogen, Agriflu, Flucelvax Quadrivalent, Fluzone High-Dose, Fluvirin, Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluzone PFS

Flu May Be Spread By Just Breathing

Posted 4 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 19, 2018 – In the midst of an especially tough flu season, here's more bad news: Researchers say it may be possible to spread the virus simply by breathing. Until now, it was thought that people picked up a flu virus when they touched contaminated surfaces or inhaled droplets in the air ejected by an infected person's coughs or sneezes. But the new study finds coughs and sneezes may not be necessary to saturate the air with flu virus. In the study, researchers analyzed air around the exhaled breath of 142 people with the flu. "We found that flu cases contaminated the air around them with infectious virus just by breathing, without coughing or sneezing," said study author Dr. Donald Milton, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland. "People with flu generate infectious aerosols [tiny droplets that stay suspended in the air for a long time] even when ... Read more

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Scientists Seek a Better Flu Vaccine

Posted 5 days ago by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Jan. 18, 2018 – Instead of getting a flu shot at the doctor's office, you might someday inhale a nasal spray vaccine at home. That's the goal of researchers who say a genetically engineered flu vaccine shows promise in animal research, and may ultimately lead to better influenza protection. Although further work is needed, the scientists hope their approach will lead to an effective at-home vaccine. "Because the variations of seasonal influenza viruses can be unpredictable, current vaccines may not provide effective protection against them," said study senior author Ren Sun. He's a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles' David Geffen School of Medicine. "Previous pandemics and recent outbreaks of avian influenza highlight the need to develop vaccines that offer broader, more effective protection," Sun said in a university ... Read more

Related support groups: Influenza, FluLaval, FluMist, Fluzone, Afluria, Vaccination and Prophlaxis, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Inactivated, Flublok, Flublok Quadrivalent, Fluogen, Flublok 2015-2016, Flucelvax 2016-2017, Fluzone 2015-2016, Fluvirin, FluLaval Quadrivalent, Fluad 2016-2017, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Live, Trivalent, Afluria 2015-2016, Fluzone PFS, Fluvirin Preservative-Free

Severe Flu Season Slams All But One State: CDC

Posted 11 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 12, 2018 – The worst flu season in years is only getting worse, with 49 states now seeing widespread misery, U.S. health officials report. "Flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now," Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza division, said during a media briefing Friday. On a map of the United States tracking flu activity, "this is the first year that we have had the entire continental U.S. be the same color," he noted. Only Hawaii and the District of Columbia have been spared widespread flu infection so far, according to the CDC. "There has been a very rapid increase in the numbers of people coming in to see their doctors. The season has started early, and it is probably peaking right about now," Jernigan added. Not only that, but "there is also a rapid rise in the number of people being hospitalized for ... Read more

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Severe Flu Season Tightens Its Grip on U.S.

Posted 14 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Jan. 9, 2018 – Americans are being hit with one of the worst flu seasons in years, with misery now widespread across 46 states, health officials say. In the West, emergency rooms in California and Arizona are packed with people struck by the flu, and drugs that ease the illness are in short supply as doctors struggle with a sharp spike in cases. Further complicating matters, many hospitals nationwide are struggling with a shortage of bags that contain fluids that deliver medicine to treat dehydrated patients, including flu patients. The reason: many of the bags are produced by factories in Puerto Rico, which is still dealing with power problems caused by Hurricane Maria in mid-November. Meanwhile, flu cases are also widespread across the Northeast, and in Florida health workers are reporting a January surge in severe cases. Virtually no region of the country has been spared, ... Read more

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Annual Flu Shots Help Keep Seniors Out of the Hospital

Posted 15 days ago by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Jan. 8, 2018 – The current flu season is shaping up to be a nasty one, but there's good news for American seniors who've gotten their flu shot. New research shows that for older adults, faithfully getting the vaccine each year greatly reduces the odds of catching a flu so severe that it lands you in the hospital. Researchers found that repeated influenza vaccination offers a double benefit in older adults, proving 74 percent effective in preventing intensive-care (ICU) admissions and 70 percent effective in preventing deaths. The findings bolster the notion that although getting a flu shot doesn't always prevent the flu, it can make it milder for those who do catch it, said study author Dr. Jesus Castilla. He's a researcher at the Navarra Institute for Health Research in Pamplona, Spain. "We were surprised by the big magnitude of the vaccine effect in preventing severe ... Read more

Related support groups: Influenza, FluLaval, FluMist, Influenza Prophylaxis, Fluzone, Afluria, Vaccination and Prophlaxis, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Inactivated, Flublok, Flublok Quadrivalent, Fluogen, Fluarix Quadrivalent, Fluvirin 2016-2017, Fluad, Fluvirin, Flucelvax 2015-2016, Flublok 2016-2017, Fluvirin 2015-2016, Fluzone PFS, FluMist Quadrivalent

Most Seniors Think Flu Shot a Must for Nursing Home Staff

Posted 3 Jan 2018 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 3, 2018 – With the flu season in full swing, a new poll shows that almost three-quarters of Americans over the age of 50 think all nursing home employees should get a flu vaccine every year. "We've finally gotten to the point in the last few years where most inpatient hospitals require their staff to get vaccinated against the flu, or at least strongly promote it," poll director Dr. Preeti Malani said in a University of Michigan news release. "These results suggest that other types of care facilities should do the same to protect vulnerable patients – or potentially risk losing business," Malani added. "I encourage everyone to ask nursing homes and other long-term care facilities about their vaccination policies." Malani is a professor of internal medicine, with a specialty in infectious diseases and geriatrics, at the University of Michigan's Medical School. The ... Read more

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Health Tip: Things to Know About This Year's Flu Shot

Posted 22 Dec 2017 by Drugs.com

-- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids get the annual flu shot. Each year, up to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized, the academy says. Here's the group's list of things to know about the flu shot: The flu vaccine is recommended for all children. The shot should be given during autumn. This year's vaccine should be obtained only in the form of a shot. The inhaled mist is not recommended this year. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. You may still get the flu if you were vaccinated, but it will be milder than if you hadn't been given the shot. There are more than 165 million doses of the flu vaccine available this year. The flu vaccine does not cause autism. You can get the flu vaccine at the same time as other vaccines. Read more

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Flu Shot Safe Even With an Egg Allergy

Posted 19 Dec 2017 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Dec. 19, 2017 – It's safe for people with an egg allergy to get a flu shot, says a leading U.S. allergists' group. Doctors no longer need to question patients about egg allergy before giving the vaccine, according to an updated guideline from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "When someone gets a flu shot, health care providers often ask if they are allergic to eggs," said guideline lead author Dr. Matthew Greenhawt. "We want health care providers and people with egg allergy to know there is no need to ask this question anymore, and no need to take any special precautions," said Greenhawt, chair of the college's food allergy committee. The guideline is consistent with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The "overwhelming evidence" since 2011 has shown that a flu shot poses no ... Read more

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Flu Vaccine Could Work as Well as Last Year's Shot: Study

Posted 19 Dec 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Dec. 18, 2017 – As the flu barrels across the United States, the good news is that this year's vaccine may work better than many expected. The flu has reached epidemic proportions in seven of the 10 regions in the country, according to Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza division. Even more troubling, the same, more severe H3N2 flu strain that was around last year is circulating again this year, she said. That concerned flu experts who had watched the vaccine show only 10 percent effectiveness against the H3N2 strain that circulated in Australia, where the flu season has just ended. But a recent report in the journal F1000 Research found the Australian strain of H3N2 is not identical to the predominant virus circulating in the United States. "The majority of the viruses are well-covered by the vaccine," said ... Read more

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Health Tip: If You Get the Flu While Pregnant

Posted 12 Dec 2017 by Drugs.com

-- The flu may be dangerous enough, but it's even more of a threat for women who are pregnant. All women should get the annual flu vaccine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. If you do develop the flu while pregnant, the CDC suggests: Begin treatment as soon as possible. Antiviral drugs work best when started within 48 hours of symptoms. Antiviral drugs may diminish symptoms, make you feel better faster and help prevent serious complications for you and baby. Your doctor may suggest taking oral oseltamivir, which has been studied thoroughly. Fever during pregnancy has been linked to increased risk of birth defects. So if you develop a fever, contact your doctor immediately. Read more

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Are Men Just 'Babies' When They Get the Flu? Maybe Not

Posted 12 Dec 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Dec. 11, 2017 – As winter rolls into town, so does the flu and all its miserable symptoms. Yet, doctors and women alike have long noticed that men tend to bemoan those symptoms more than women. The phenomenon even has a name: the "man flu." So, are men just whiny wimps? No, a new analysis out of Canada suggests, because respiratory illnesses may indeed hit men harder than women. According to study author Dr. Kyle Sue, "there are already many physiologic differences between men and women, so it makes sense that we could differ in our responses to cold and flu viruses as well." Sue is a clinical assistant professor in family medicine with the Health Sciences Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland. "The evidence in current studies points towards men having weaker immune systems than women, especially when it comes to common viral respiratory infections," Sue explained. "Men ... Read more

Related support groups: Influenza, FluLaval, FluMist, Influenza Prophylaxis, Fluzone, Afluria, Vaccination and Prophlaxis, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Inactivated, Flublok, Flublok Quadrivalent, Fluogen, Fluarix Quadrivalent, Fluvirin 2016-2017, Fluad, Fluvirin, Flucelvax 2015-2016, Flublok 2016-2017, Fluvirin 2015-2016, Fluzone PFS, FluMist Quadrivalent

Tough Flu Season Ahead: Vaccine May Only Be 10% Effective

Posted 7 Dec 2017 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6, 2017 – There's bad news about this year's flu vaccine. The most common type of flu being seen in the United States is influenza A H3N2, the same severe strain that dominated last flu season. And in Australia, where the winter flu season has just wrapped up, this season's vaccine was only about 10 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. "Our vaccine is the same as the one used in Australia," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the influenza division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The vaccine doesn't work as well for H3N2 viruses in general." But she added that a 10 percent effectiveness rate still seems a bit low. Last year, a similar vaccine was 43 percent effective against the H3N2 virus and 48 percent effective overall, according to the CDC. And Brammer added that other types of flu are circulating, including influenza A H1N1 ... Read more

Related support groups: Influenza, FluLaval, FluMist, Influenza Prophylaxis, Fluzone, Afluria, Vaccination and Prophlaxis, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Inactivated, Flublok, Flublok Quadrivalent, Fluogen, Fluarix Quadrivalent, Fluvirin 2016-2017, Fluad, Fluvirin, Flucelvax 2015-2016, Flublok 2016-2017, Fluvirin 2015-2016, Fluzone PFS, FluMist Quadrivalent

Flu Can Have Dangerous Domino Effect on Older Adults

Posted 3 Dec 2017 by Drugs.com

SUNDAY, Dec. 3, 2017 – Even months after recovering from the flu, older people remain at increased risk for a heart attack, stroke or disability, a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases warns. "We all know about the illness influenza causes – obviously fever and making you feel poorly, aches and pains – and that is because it sets up a systemic inflammatory response," said Dr. William Schaffner. He's a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. "Not as well known: In the two weeks to a month after you recover from influenza, you have a three to five times increased risk of having a heart attack," Schaffner said in a university news release. "You have a two to three times increased risk of having a stroke. "Nobody wants a heart attack or a stroke, so by preventing flu, you prevent this inflammatory response ... Read more

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