United Press International (UPI ) reports over 200 people have died from the flu this season, in California. CBS News has released a health report, advising 10 children have died within the first two weeks of the 2014 flu season, nationally. The most dominant strain is the H1N1 that was seen in 2009. Most of the time, it is the young and the old who have weaker immune systems and succumb to the harder effects of the flu. With the H1N1, however, the primary patients are young adults. San Diego’s public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, reports the 52 percent of those who died this year from the flu were age 60 and younger, some having received the flu vaccination. This was broadcast in The San Diego Union-Tribune. H3N2 was a strain that killed only 25 percent of this age group.
One patient who died was reportedly healthy before becoming fatally ill very suddenly. The female allegedly received a flu shot every year except for the most recent year.
Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia have reported the highest influenza-like cases. Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico have been reported to have very high rates of flu sufferers.
All influenza A subtypes are reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be carried by birds. Researchers here claim that swine, however, is known as a “mixing vessel.” The method of transmission from bird to pig is believed to be the water. There was a genetic similarity in the 1957 H2N2 virus and the water sample from pond water used for barn maintenance.
A major threat by the H2 virus are to those born after 1968 due to little, if any, preexisting immunity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports people can transmit the flu virus from six feet of distance. It is believed that transmission is most often due to talking to an infected person within this distance and who is infected, or by being in the proximity of someone infected who is coughing or sneezing. Droplets of saliva or mucus that are invisible to the naked eye, can land in the mouths or eyes, or inhaled by someone expectantly. Less commonly, the virus is picked up from touching inanimate surfaces. After being infected, a person is contagious one day before symptoms are present. The infected person remains contagious for five to seven days. Since vaccination has been reported unable to prevent the deaths this flu has caused this season, these facts are critical in understanding the transmission of the virus.
Maggie Fox with NBC News did a report on the vaccine’s effectiveness. She found that in any given year, a flu shot is only about 60 percent effective. Flu mutates at a very fast rate and this is why people are advised to get a flu shot once a year. Fox reports 40 children to have been killed by the virus this year even though the flu vaccine was prepared for this strain. Many believe, as Maggie Fox states, there would be more answers available to the questionable effectiveness of vaccines if it was ethical to do randomized studies. Researchers believe closer attention needs to be put on those who do get vaccinated and those who do not.
There are various flu vaccines available, but these vaccines are reported to be composed of one of two main ingredients. The influenza shot contains either an inactivated flu virus or a “recombinant” serum. The NIH writes, “Recombinant vector vaccines are experimental vaccines similar to DNA vaccines.”
Additionally, nasal spray vaccines are available. These contain actual live viruses, but they have been weakened to the point incapable of causing illness. There is still much reported controversy over the administration of flu vaccines in combating influenza-related deaths. Some argue it is dangerous to inject annual flu vaccines into the body because of the rare but serious side effects. People might have until the next flu season to decide if they will be receiving vaccination, though, this may not actually help.
By Lindsey Alexander