It’s relatively early in the season, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that influenza activity is already rising—and several markers are higher than normally seen this early. Four children have already died this season, and four of the CDC’s 10 regions are at or above their regional baselines. Another bad sign: Australia, whose data are often a predictor of flu severity in the U.S., just completed its worst flu season on record. So far, influenza A has accounted for 83.4% of positive flu specimens. This information is essential to share with patients who are reluctant to get a flu shot. Stress that it’s been proven the best protection against influenza is vaccination, and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends that everyone 6 months and older (including pregnant women) get a flu shot. In addition, let them know that if they wind up having flu-like symptoms they should come in within 24–48 hours of when those symptoms began. While most people will need nothing more than rest and fluids, some patients (eg, young children, adults >65 years of age, and adults with certain medical conditions), may require antiviral medication.
With Four Children Dead Already, CDC Warns This Flu Season Could Be Severe