Flu Season: A Fight to Win

CHRISTOPHER SANDERS

STAFF WRITER

The flu, a little disease that can be cured with good sleep, healthy foods, and warm clothes, or the next deadly plague? According to many news publications, this flu season is becoming the worst in 15 years. Thousands of people have been flocking to hospitals with nearly the same symptoms, and at least 37 children have died. This year’s flu season is shaping up to be the worst in nearly a decade and it’s just starting.

At a time when experts hoped new cases would start decreasing, federal health officials said that the number of patients seeking care for flu-like symptoms continues to rise sharply. How did this flu start and where is the cure? Almost 12,000 people have been hospitalized with confirmed cases of the flu, an increase of 3,000 in just one week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Florida, West Boca Medical Center in Boca Raton has seen a surge of patients.

PHOTO CREDIT: MODERN HEALTHCARE 2017

“We think it may be peaking, but who knows what the next few weeks will bring,” said Adam Leisy to The News and Advance, head of the emergency room. Leisy said his hospital has been flooded with people dealing with chronic conditions and now wheezing from coughs and struggling with fevers.

In California, some hospitals have pitched tents outside the emergency rooms to cope with the increase of patients; some facilities have flown in nurses from out of state, and doctors have worked double and triple shifts.

In Chicago, a shortage of patient beds has left ambulances idling outside hospitals. In New York, state leaders this week issued an emergency order allowing pharmacists to give vaccines to children. The toll on children has been particularly severe. CDC officials said the pediatric death count is likely to approach, if not exceed, the 148 deaths reported during 2014 and 2015. That season ended with 56,000 flu-related deaths, 710,000 people hospitalized and 16 million who sought care from a clinic or hospital.

This year’s intensity has been driven by a particularly nasty strain of the virus known as H3N2 (Influenza). No one knows how, why, or where this sickness started, but many experts are working on a way to combat the disease, mainly on children.

This is not the first time that Influenza took over the world. In 1918, the flu would kill more than twice the human population and perhaps five times as many in just 15 months. Though mostly forgotten, it has been called “the greatest medical holocaust in history.” Experts believe between 50 and 100 million people died. More than two-thirds of them died in a single 10-week period in autumn of 1918. Never have so many died so fast from a single disease in the United States.

In the United States alone, this flu killed about 675,000 in about a year. As the country muddles through a particularly nasty flu season, one that the CDC says has killed 24 children in the first three weeks of January, and 37 since the start of the flu season, the 1918 nightmare serves as a reminder.

If a contagious enough strain was to emerge again, a century of modern medicine might not save millions from dying. This disease is so fast that in the past the flu killed 20,000 in New York City and produced 31,000 orphans in just 10 weeks.

This flu brought life to a standstill, emptying city streets, closing churches, bars, theaters, even schools. Coffin makers couldn’t keep up with demands, so mass graves were dug to bury the dead. People cowered behind closed doors for fear they would be struck down.

In Philadelphia, news stories described priests driving carts through the streets, encouraging people to bring out the dead so that they may be buried. In New York, there were accounts of people feeling perfectly healthy when they boarded the subway in Coney Island and being taken off dead when they reached Columbus Circle.

This disease has ravaged so many parts of the world and something needs to happen, change needs to occur before this becomes a larger epidemic. In the meantime, it is best to…

  1. Stay home and get plenty of rest.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids, mostly water.
  3. Eat healthy foods- keeps your body strong and elevated.
  4. Treat aches and fevers.
  5. Get a flu shot.
  6. Breathe in steam- helps with a stuffed-up nose.
  7. Try a lozenge.
  8. Frequently visit a medical professional.
  9. Have 911 ready to call if things get worse.
  10. Stay up-to-date on all things flu-wise.
  11. Pace yourself and stay calm.
  12. Always fight & never give up.

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