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Old 30-12-14, 20:55   #1
 
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United States of America VIDEO -US Serious Flu Epidemic Killing Many Kids

America Gripped by Flu Epidemic as Virulent Mutated Strain that has Already Killed 15 Children Sweeps Across 22 States

  • Mutated strain of H3N2 virus has hospitalized 2,500 people nationwide
  • Predominantly affects those over 65 and under 4 but also teenagers
  • Fifteen children have died since October 1 and four before Christmas Day
AP, 30 December 2014


The CDC has today declared a national flu epidemic as virulent mutated versions of this years H3N2 virus sweep the country.


Twenty-two states have reported a high number of flu cases, centered mainly around the Midwest and southeast of the country.
Since the start of the flu season on October 1 and December 20, CDC figures show that 15 children have died from the virus and four in the week before Christmas.

Six children in Tennessee have died this year from the flu according to the state's Department of Health and so far East Tennessee Children's hospital has seen 442 children with flu this month.

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Epidemic: The number of states reporting high instances of flu across the country now stands at 22



Those particularly at risk are those over 65 and younger than four and across the nation 2,500 people have been hospitalized because of the growing crisis, which is worsening.
According to the CDC, data from 122 US cities shows deaths from influenza and pneumonia exceeded the national baseline and is at the epdidemic threshold of 6.8 percent.
The new data also reflects the fact that the number of states reporting high flu activity has risen from 13 to 22.

The reason for the national explosion in flu numbers is this years H3N2 virus has mutated and reduced the effectiveness of the vaccine which was pre-prepared.
About 90 percent of flu cases so far this year have been the virulent H3N2 subtype, the CDC reported.

Another state hit hard has been Minnesota, where health officials have made it clear to parents that this year's flu strain is particularly strong.
Worringly, the flu has proved fatal to children with no apparent underlying health problems and statistics from the Minnesota Department of Health have revealed that in some parts of the state up to 50 percent of students have been absent in December battling the illness.





Spread: This map reveals the sweep of flu across the United States with almost the entire country reporting widespread flu





Indeed, 17-year-old Shannon Zwanziger, a senior at Owatonna High School died at the Mayo Clinic in early December from the flu.
Initially falling ill with a fever and sore throat, Shannon deteriorated at home and her heart stopped beating while she was in her mother's arms after being sick for one week.





Tragedy: Shannon Zwanziger passed away in early December after contracting the flu


Despite the paramedics and best efforts, she passed away.

Indeed, earlier in December the CDC admitted that the vaccine does not protect well against the dominant strain, H3N2, seen most commonly so far this year.
That strain tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations, especially in the elderly.

'Though we cannot predict what will happen the rest of this flu season, it's possible we may have a season that's more severe than most,' said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a news conferenceat the start of the month.

CDC officials think the vaccine should provide some protection and still are urging people to get vaccinated. But it probably won't be as good as if the vaccine strain was a match.

Flu vaccine effectiveness tends to vary from year to year. Last winter, flu vaccine was 50 to 55 percent effective overall, which experts consider relatively good.
Among infectious diseases, flu is considered one of the nation's leading killers. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the CDC.
Nearly 150 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed for this winter's flu season.





Ineffective: A man receives a free flu shot from a Walgreens employee during a free flu shot clinic at Allen Temple Baptist Church on December 19, 2014 in Oakland, California



Current flu vaccines are built to protect against three or four different kinds of flu virus, depending on the product. The ingredients are selected very early in the year, based on predictions of what strains will circulate the following winter.
The ingredients always include a Type A H3N2 flu virus. The most severe flu seasons tend to be dominated by some version of that kind of flu bug.

The three most deadly flu seasons of the last 10 years — in the winters of 2003-2004, 2007-2008, and 2012-2013 — were H3N2 seasons.


In March, after the H3N2 vaccine strain was vaccine production was underway, health officials noted the appearance new and different strain of H3N2. 'This is not something that's been around before,' Frieden said.

But health officials weren't sure if the new strain would become a significant problem in the United States this winter until recently, they said. Lab specimens from patients have shown that the most commonly seen flu bug so far is the new strain of H3N2. Specifically, about 48 percent of the H3N2 samples seen so far were well matched to what's in the vaccine, but 52 percent were not, the CDC said.

An official with one vaccine manufacturer — GlaxoSmithKline — emphasized that about half the samples do match the strain in the vaccine. He also noted flu seasons can sometimes involve a second wave of illnesses caused by a different strain.

'We're at the very beginning of flu season, and it's quite possible different strains will predominate,' said Dr. Leonard Friedland, director of scientific affairs for GSK's vaccines business.

CDC Guide to Spotting the Symptoms of Flu

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