Flu Lays Minnesotans Low

With the biggest flu season Minnesota has seen in the past five years, it would not be surprising if you were infected!  The United States was hit hard with the flu, with 29 states reporting widespread cases.  Minnesota was nationally ranked as a state with severe flu cases, being one of thirteen states that reported high levels of flu this year, according to CBS News.  Three hundred eighty Minnesotans were hospitalized this flu season, resulting in four pediatric deaths, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

What are the contributors to this nasty flu season?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s flu vaccine does not provide protection for H3N2, the type of flu that is currently spreading across the US.  Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said, “Because the H3N2 is dominating, we probably will see more disease.”

Since the vaccine does little to help the current flu, why should you bother to get it?  Although the vaccine does little to protect you from H3N2, it does however provide protection for H1N1 and several strands of Influenza B.  Despite the fact that H3N2 is the main flu, there are several other types of flu that are circulating.  Even though it may seem the flu season is coming to the end, it is never too late to get your flu shot!  With a few weeks still remaining, it is still possible to become infected with the flu while it is still around.

There are three actions that CDC gives to fight the flu this season.  The first step is to make sure you receive your flu shot.  Anyone over the age of six months is eligible for the vaccine, and is highly recommended to receive it.  Secondly, make sure to take everyday preventive actions to avoid the spread of germs.  These actions can be as simple as washing your hands and avoiding sick people.  Lastly, if prescribed by your doctor, take flu antiviral drugs.  If you are infected with the flu, antiviral drugs can treat you, but they must be prescribed by your doctor, and are not served over the counter.

The Minnesota 2014 flu season was much bigger than previous years , being the worst case in five years.  Hopefully next year this unpleasant virus will not strike as hard!