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Have you been thinking of getting immunized for influenza? Well consider this:

Dr. Roberta Beals

Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. It occurs in epidemics nearly every year, mainly during the winter season in temperate climates. Influenza viruses change their antigenic characteristics frequently, and their subsequent spread depends upon the susceptibility of the population to viruses with novel antigens. Annual influenza vaccination is an important public health measure for preventing influenza infection.

This year the World Health Organization recommended restructuring the vaccine due to the increase and changes in Swine flu cases in Australia. Here are their recommendations:

The WHO recommends that seasonal influenza vaccines for the 2017 influenza season in the southern hemisphere (May to October) and the 2017 to 2018 influenza season in the northern hemisphere (November to April) contain the following strains

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus {this is the swine flu}
  • A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (included in the quadrivalent vaccines only)

The influenza A H1N1 vaccine antigen represents a change compared with the one used in the 2016 influenza vaccines for the southern hemisphere and the 2016 to 2017 influenza vaccines for the northern hemisphere.

As a result, we should be better protected than our southern friends. Many people are on their way to being immunized. We have had our first freeze so the first case should be just around the corner. Isolated cases have been found in larger cities in Texas thus far.

Exposure to the viral particles occurs when you come within 6 feet of infected person and is spread through mucous droplets from sneezing or coughing. After 24-48 hours you will start to have symptoms and start sheading the virus as well for the next 4.5 days. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle/joint aches and pains, cough, dizziness, runny nose, anorexia and malaise. The key to treatment is early detection, treatment and isolation. See your provider within 48 hours to be screened. Remember the treatment will decrease the severity and duration of the disease. The associated illnesses such as pneumonia are on the rise. Hospitalizations rates in West Texas have increased by 20% in this year in Pneumonia patients. Physicians in West Texas are recommending PREVAR 13 or PNEUMOCOCCAL 23 to prevent this complication. Your provider can recommend the one that is right for you.

Peak month of influenza activity 1982-1983 through 2015-2016, United States

Reproduced from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza: The flu season. Available (Accessed on September 8, 2016).

Graphic 60877 Version 5.0

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