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Antiviral Flu Drugs Safe in Mid-to-Late Pregnancy: Study

Posted 1 Mar 2017 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, March 1, 2017 – Taking antiviral drugs to prevent or treat flu during pregnancy doesn't appear to put the health of the fetus at risk, a new study finds. Researchers reviewed information from nearly 6,000 pregnant women who were given a prescription for antiviral drugs to treat flu. The prescriptions were for either oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). The study didn't include women who took the drugs before 22 weeks of pregnancy. The researchers compared these women to nearly 700,000 expectant mothers who didn't take the drugs during pregnancy. Babies born to mothers prescribed the antiviral drugs didn't have higher rates of complications. The researchers looked at problems such as low birth weight, preterm birth, stillbirth and birth defects. The findings support previous studies showing that these drugs don't put babies at risk, according to study author Dr. ... Read more

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Flu Cases Spiking Across the United States: CDC

Posted 10 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2017 – Flu activity spiked sharply across the United States this week, federal health officials reported Friday. Deaths from flu-related conditions continued at high levels, and hospitalizations among people over 65 and under the age of 4 are up. So far, 20 children have died from flu, said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "More children have died this year than at the same time last year," said Brammer. "This may end up being a bad year for kids, but we just don't know yet. Deaths look high for this year because last year was light. A lot of this is timing." Overall last year, 128 children died from flu-related complications, according to the CDC. Hospitalizations among people in their 50s and 60s are also increasing, and may actually be outpacing those for children, the CDC reported. Health officials noted ... Read more

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New Flu Vaccines for Dogs Unleashed in Lab

Posted 7 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Feb. 6, 2017 – Researchers who created two new flu vaccines for dogs say their work could help keep people safe, too. The vaccines were developed to protect dogs against the H3N8 canine flu virus, which is circulating among dogs in the United States. These are "live-attenuated" vaccines. That means they're made from live flu virus that is weakened so that it does not cause the flu. These types of vaccines trigger stronger immune responses and longer periods of protection than inactivated (killed flu virus) vaccines currently used by veterinarians, according to the University of Rochester researchers. The new vaccines proved safe and effective against H3N8 canine influenza in mice and dog tracheal cells, according to Luis Martinez-Sobrido, an associate professor in the department of microbiology and immunology, and colleagues. The investigators plan to test the vaccines in ... Read more

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Flu Hospitalizations, Deaths Increasing: CDC

Posted 27 Jan 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2017 – Although this year's flu season appears to be an average one so far, more hospitalizations are being reported and deaths are increasing, federal health officials reported Friday. And it will be several weeks before the season peaks, said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We are starting to see cases of severe disease and we are seeing excess deaths, most likely due to influenza," she said. Even though deaths and hospitalizations are increasing, Brammer didn't describe this year's flu season as particularly severe. "It's looking like an average influenza season," she said. 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, ... Read more

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Best Ways to Steer Clear of the Flu

Posted 22 Jan 2017 by Drugs.com

SATURDAY, Jan. 21, 2017 – The best way for people to protect themselves from the flu is to get vaccinated – and it's not too late to get a shot, an infectious diseases expert says. The flu vaccine also protects those who aren't able to get it, including infants younger than 6 months and people with certain allergies and medical conditions, said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn. He is chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Those who think it's too late to get vaccinated should reconsider since flu season lasts until spring, Kahn said in a medical center news release. UT Southwestern outlines other ways people can reduce their risk of getting the flu: Keep your hands clean. Be sure to wash your hands well and often. If soap and water aren't readily available, opt for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It's also important to be aware of what you touch, ... Read more

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Flu Cases Starting to Spread: CDC

Posted 20 Jan 2017 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 17 Jan 2017 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 13 Jan 2017 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 6 Jan 2017 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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