by ANDREA FRENCH Section Editor
Officials are saying that the winter of 2013 could be one of the worst cold and flu seasons in a long time. The nation’s leading health experts are calling this flu outbreak in the United States an epidemic.
More than 40 US states are reporting widespread flu outbreaks. As far as can be seen, the flu season started earlier than other years, and cases being reported are more severe than other years as well.
“The fact that flu season has started so much earlier this year scares me. So many kids at school are getting sick and it makes me so nervous. Hopefully, flu season will end sooner this year, before we all catch it,” says sophomore Mikey Perrotta.
So far, there have been 2,257 hospitalizations related to the flu virus. Furthermore, there have been 18 reported deaths of children due to the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention post biweekly updates on the flu this season. The latest update, for the week of December 23 to the 29, stated that 41 states have reported widespread influenza virus, which is an increase of 31 states from the previous week.
“Remember, once it peaks, you still have a considerable amount of time where there is a lot of flu activity, and right now it may have peaked in some places, but for the most part, it has not yet peaked,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Right now we are only at about week five of the 12 week flu season.
In Massachusetts, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, declared a public health emergency in the city Wednesday due to the flu outbreak. Massachusetts has been named one of the 29 states that has a high report of flu-like illnesses.
H3N2 is the strain of flu that is going around this year. It is one of the more serious strains of the illness. Doctors say that this strain is more serious than some of the other types in the past, but not to worry, H3n2 is quickly treated with the common flu vaccine given throughout the US.
In order to protect yourself this flu season, it is always a good idea to get the flu vaccination. It is never too late to protect yourself this season. Also, you should stay away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and wash your hand regularly, as well as exercising and eating healthy foods to keep immune systems up.
“I am concerned that people are coming to school with the flu and giving it to the rest of us. Avoiding people with these symptoms is hard to do when confined in a classroom for extended periods of time,” says sophomore Samantha Fasbach.