August 27, 2018 is World Food Day, the celebration of food and the worldwide fight against hunger. This year the World Food Program is focusing on the importance of water and sanitation. It’s often said, “There is no such thing as enough water,” but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there is such a thing as enough antibiotics.
National health officials announced Wednesday they’re investigating a possible flu outbreak in which 6 people who attended a college football game last weekend were treated for high levels of the illness. Three of those patients had to be hospitalized. The outbreak took place on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The CDC says it plans to collect data on the illnesses and how they developed, but the details on exactly how many cases it’s involved in won’t be known until next week.
What’s so concerning about this possible outbreak is it comes just months after it was reported that 5,600 people in 41 states were hospitalized due to the flu during the 2016-2017 flu season. During that same season, approximately half of the community influenza A (H3N2) cases in the United States were linked to the H3N2 strain, a type of flu that is more dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.
Dr. Tara Simon, a professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said the current statistics on how badly this year’s flu season has been affecting people are being “raised by a lot of people to be up a little bit” for most of us.
Our 2018-2019 flu season was already underway by early August, even before a single human case of the flu was reported by the CDC.
And we’re still on track to reach a staggering number of flu infections — at least 6,600 so far, and there’s still three months left in this flu season.
Simon says that “the number is going to go up and down over the next few months.”
You probably know by now that each and every flu season is bad. But what may surprise you is the fact that about 40 percent of those who get sick from the flu don’t even realize they have it.
Many of us will have flu-like symptoms like a runny nose, coughing, watery eyes, a stuffy nose, and muscle aches. These “chronic flu symptoms” are likely caused by the influenza virus. Others will have a more common flu-like illness: cold and flu-like symptoms are typically brought on by the common cold virus that can range from cold-like symptoms to a fever, sweats, and body aches.
The following infographic, from the CDC, shows the numbers for how common the flu is each year:
The CDC also says that over the last four years, three times as many people younger than 65 years old have been hospitalized with the flu as adults over 65 years old have.
The organization also cautions that the flu can cause serious complications in some people.
“The flu and its complications are preventable through vaccination,” said Dr. Lyn Finelli, a physician at the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases. “While flu activity appears to be declining in some states, there is still time to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
The CDC said that during the 2017-2018 flu season, all flu-like illnesses caused by influenza strains were more common in children than in adults, and in younger people in their 20s more than in older people in their 50s and 60s.
The organization also said that flu activity was lowest between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but spiked during the winter holidays.
And that’s why the CDC is urging everyone — kids and adults alike — to get the flu vaccine.
Stacey Barchenger is a freelance writer.