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Flu Cases Starting to Spread: CDC

Posted 12 hours ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 20, 2017 – Flu activity continues to rise across the United States and there's been a slight uptick in the number of deaths in the last week, federal health officials reported Friday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's still not too late to get a flu shot. That's particularly important for the most vulnerable – the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women, officials said. "It would have been better to get vaccinated early, but there is still potential benefit from the vaccine," Lynnette Brammer, a CDC epidemiologist, said Friday. She said flu activity is "still going up – fairly slowly – but it's still increasing." "We are starting to see an increase in flu-related deaths," she added, "although deaths aren't at a level considered epidemic." The CDC doesn't track the number of adults who die from flu, but it does keep ... Read more

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Why Winter Weather Brings More Flu

Posted 4 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Jan. 17, 2017 – Winter's first chill may bring an unwelcome guest: flu outbreaks, a new study says. Researchers looked at data on weather and flu cases in Gothenburg, Sweden, and found that flu outbreaks occurred about one week after the first stretch of cold weather and low humidity. "According to our calculations, a cold week with an average temperature below zero degree Celsius [32 degrees Fahrenheit] precedes the start of the flu epidemic," said study researcher Nicklas Sundell. He's an infectious diseases specialist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Gothenburg. "We believe that this sudden drop in temperature contributes to 'kick-start' the epidemic. Once the epidemic has started, it continues even if temperatures rise. Once people are sick and contagious, many more may become infected," Sundell said in a university news ... Read more

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Flu Tightens Its Hold on the Nation

Posted 7 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 13, 2017 – The pace of flu activity continues to quicken across the United States, and probably hasn't peaked yet. That's the assessment of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is urging the most vulnerable – the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women – to get their flu shots before it's too late. "Even though activity is elevated, we are probably not at peak yet," Lynnette Brammer, a CDC epidemiologist, said Friday. "Even if we were at peak, you've still got half the season to go," she added. Right now, the heaviest flu activity is occurring along the East and West Coasts, Brammer said. "The Northwest has been hit harder and earlier, and activity could have peaked there, but we won't know that for a couple of weeks," she said. Only the center of the country has been largely spared, but Brammer expects flu activity to ... Read more

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Flu Season Starting to Peak

Posted 14 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 6, 2017 – Flu season is in full swing and it's starting to look like a severe one, U.S. health officials said Friday. That's why they're urging that the most vulnerable – the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women – get their shots before it's too late. "We are still a few weeks from the peak of flu season, and then there's the second half of season to go," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "I would be surprised if this was the peak." The prominent strain this time around is H3N2, which often signals a severe season that hits the oldest and youngest the hardest, she said. "Not all H3 years are severe years, but a lot of the severe years are H3 years," Brammer said. Influenza H1N1 and influenza B viruses are also circulating throughout the country, she added. Although the height of ... Read more

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There's Still Time for Your Flu Shot

Posted 23 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Dec. 23, 2016 – Flu needn't spoil the start of the new year, say U.S. health officials who urge children and adults to get vaccinated. "Most of the flu season is still ahead of us, so it's not too late to get vaccinated," said Dr. Joseph Bresee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, get the shot soon because it can take several weeks to produce enough antibodies to give you maximum protection, the agency notes. "We often see spikes in flu during and right after the holidays as people congregate and travel in planes that bring people close together," said Bresee, who is chief of epidemiology and prevention in the CDC's influenza division. Flu activity will increase in most parts of the country over the next several weeks, before peaking in the next few months, he said. The hardest-hit areas so far are New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the Southeast and the ... Read more

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Just 40 Percent of Americans Vaccinated for Flu This Season

Posted 12 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Dec. 12, 2016 – Only about two out of five Americans had gotten this season's flu shot as of early November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. About 37 percent of children between 6 months and 17 years old have gotten the flu vaccine this year. And approximately 41 percent of adults aged 18 and older have received the shot. The overall rate is similar to the vaccination rate at the same time last year, the CDC noted. "We are glad to see that people are making the decision to protect themselves and their families from flu, but coverage is still low and we urge people to get vaccinated if they haven't yet," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "We have a tool that is proven to prevent flu illness and hospitalization, but millions of people are not taking advantage of it. Too many ... Read more

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More Pregnant Women Getting Flu Shot, But Improvement Needed

Posted 8 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 8, 2016 – Getting a flu shot during pregnancy can protect both a mom-to-be and her baby. And while the percentage of pregnant American women who got the vaccine has doubled in recent years, too many still go without the shot, researchers say. "Although the trend is encouraging, coverage still falls far short of the 2016 [U.S.] recommendation that all pregnant women who are or might become pregnant during flu season be vaccinated," according to a team led by Stephen Kerr, an epidemiologist at Boston University. Kerr's team has tracked data on vaccinations received during pregnancy for more than 5,300 U.S. women since 2005. The investigators found that in the flu seasons before the 2009-2010 H1N1 flu pandemic, only one in every five pregnant women in the study got an influenza vaccine. However, that number jumped to 33 percent of the women during the 2009-2010 flu ... Read more

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Your Birth Year Might Help Shield You From Bird Flu Strains

Posted 10 Nov 2016 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Nov. 10, 2016 – The year you were born could help predict your risk of becoming seriously ill or dying after exposure to a flu virus that jumped from animals to humans, researchers suggest. It was believed that previous exposure to a flu virus offered people little to no protection against new animal-origin flu viruses, according to investigators from the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of California, Los Angeles. But an analysis of all-known cases of severe illness or death caused by the H5N1 and H7N9 bird flu viruses showed that the first infection with flu virus as child helps determine which new bird flu viruses people would be protected against in the future. Depending on when people were born, they were infected with different types of flu viruses for the first time as children, the researchers explained. This causes their bodies to produce different ... Read more

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Why You Need a Flu Shot Now

Posted 1 Nov 2016 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Nov. 1, 2016 – Flu season is just about here, and now's the time to protect yourself with a flu shot, doctors say. "Every year about 40 million people in the United States get the flu. About 19 million people will have to see a doctor," said Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr., an infectious disease specialist and president of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. "Many millions of people will miss work, and a lot of students miss classes," Stanley said in a university news release. The best protection is a flu shot, Stanly said. Others agree. "Vaccination is one of the best ways to add protection against many diseases, including influenza," said Dr. Susan Donelan, medical director of health-care epidemiology at Stony Brook University Hospital. "Even if you do get the flu, if you have been vaccinated, it may make the actual disease milder and better tolerated," she explained. Getting ... Read more

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How to Protect Yourself From the Seasonal Flu

Posted 23 Sep 2016 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2016 – Don't let this year's flu season catch you by surprise. Experts say an annual flu shot is the best way to avoid the aches, fever, congestion and fatigue that flu brings – and to protect those who are at high risk for flu-related complications. "Every year, people die from influenza," said Cindy Weston, an assistant professor of nursing at Texas A&M University. "After sizable outbreaks, people will respond with large amounts of vaccinations, but they should be getting vaccinated every year to protect those most vulnerable, mainly children and the elderly." Now that it's fall, it's time for your shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for everyone older than 6 months of age. This includes pregnant women. Babies less than 8 months old may need to get the vaccine in two doses. And people over age 65 should get the ... Read more

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Tips for Avoiding Back-to-School Germs, Illnesses

Posted 23 Sep 2016 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2016 – Kids and germs seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. But, there are ways that parents can help protect their kids from the usual barrage of back-to-school illnesses, a health expert says. Make sure children get plenty of sleep and eat a well balanced diet, advises Jacqueline Stout-Aguilar. She's a registered nurse and an assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing. Most kids need at least nine hours of sleep each night, Stout-Aguilar said. It's also a good idea to make sure children get enough vitamin C to boost their immune system, she added. Parents should also teach their children how to contain germs and keep their hands clean. Show kids how to cover their coughs and sneezes with the inside of their elbow or a tissue, Stout-Aguilar said. She said kids must also be taught how to wash their hands properly. "It is important to wash your ... Read more

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Pediatricians' Group Advises Against Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine

Posted 6 Sep 2016 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Sept. 6, 2016 – The nasal spray flu vaccine is ineffective and should not be used in the upcoming flu season, says a leading group of U.S. pediatricians. All children aged 6 months and older should receive a seasonal flu shot during the 2016-17 flu season, according to an updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The statement supports the recommendation by U.S. health officials not to use the nasal spray flu vaccine this coming season. "New research shows that the flu shot provided significantly better protection in recent flu seasons compared with the nasal spray vaccine," statement co-author Dr. Henry Bernstein said in an AAP news release. The nasal spray vaccine's effectiveness among children aged 2 to 17 was just 3 percent in 2015-16, compared with 63 percent for the injected vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and ... Read more

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Flu Shot Tied to Fewer Hospitalizations, Deaths in Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Posted 26 Jul 2016 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, July 26, 2016 – The seasonal flu vaccine may offer people with type 2 diabetes some protection against dying prematurely, a new study suggests. The flu shot also appeared to protect those with type 2 diabetes from hospitalizations for stroke, as well as heart and breathing problems, the study said. British researchers looked at a large group – more than 124,500 people – with type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes normally have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems, the researchers noted. During the seven-year study, the researchers found that flu vaccination was associated with a 19 percent reduction in flu-season hospital admissions for heart attack in people with type 2 diabetes. Hospital admissions for stroke were 30 percent lower for those who got a flu vaccination. Admissions were also down 22 percent for heart failure, and 15 percent for pneumonia or influenza ... Read more

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Flu Shot Helps Heart Failure Patients Avoid Hospital

Posted 1 Jun 2016 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2016 – Getting a flu shot reduces heart failure patients' risk of hospitalization, a new study shows. "Uptake of the flu vaccination in heart failure patients is relatively low, ranging from less than 20 percent in low and middle-income countries to 50 to 70 percent in high income countries like the U.K.," said study author Kazem Rahimi. He is deputy director of the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford in England. "This may partly be because there is no strong evidence to support the recommendation in these patients," he said. Also, some research had suggested that vaccination might be less effective in heart failure patients than in the general population because of their blunted immune response, he added. Heart failure means the heart is no longer able to pump blood efficiently enough to meet the body's needs. It's one of the most common ... Read more

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Expectant Mom's Flu Shot Protects 2

Posted 3 May 2016 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, May 3, 2016 – When a pregnant woman gets vaccinated for the flu, the protection extends to her baby too, new research confirms. Babies 6 months and younger whose mothers had a flu vaccine during pregnancy were 70 percent less likely to have lab-confirmed flu than babies born to mothers who didn't have the immunization while pregnant. In addition, the babies born to mothers immunized during pregnancy had an 80 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations, the study found. "Children younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated," said the study's lead author, Dr. Julie Shakib. "The best way to protect infants younger than 6 months is to make sure everyone around them is vaccinated. Immunizing pregnant women provides immunity to the baby through the placenta. Immunizing others who live with or care for the baby prevents them from getting the flu and passing it to the ... Read more

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