Flu season claims many young lives

Jan. 8, 2004, midnight | By Adedeji Ogunfolu | 20 years, 1 month ago

Outbreak causes concern in medical community

Forty-two children have died of the flu during the 2003-2004 flu season nationwide, and federal officials predict this flu season should continue to be harmful for young children and people over 65.

According to an article published in the Washington Post on December 20, "Officials Fear Effect of Flu Outbreak on Young People," the flu kills about 36,000 people annually. Federal officials predicted that this would be the worst flu season in years because of larger the number of early cases. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent teams across the country to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine, which was not built to fully fight the more dominant strain that has proved resistant.

Lila Bahadori of the Dennis Avenue Health Center said the flu mutates every year. "It changes every year just a little bit," she said. "There are very few viruses like this."

Since the virus is constantly mutating, health officials alter the contents of the vaccine each year by choosing three virus strains based on activity from the previous year. The vaccine combination chosen this year does not match one of the three strains causing illness in the U.S. so far. This is causing health officials a great deal of concern.

Those people in the higher risk group for severe symptoms include people older than 65, children six to 23 months old, adults and children with chronic health conditions, and women more than three months pregnant due to their weaker immune systems.

Health official's worries are compounded by the fact that the 83 million injections have been virtually exhausted. However, the new nasally administered Flumist is in large supply. Some health officials do not recommend the use of the newer vaccine. "I don't recommend that my patients use the Flumist vaccine because unlike the regular shot, Flumist is a live vaccine, meaning there‘s more risk for infection" she said.

To avoid the harmful effects of the flu, doctors suggest that people do not engage in activity that may be deemed unsanitary. "When people use tissues they should throw them out, and another way to avoid the flu is to stay away from large crowds of people, like malls" Bahadori said. "Frequent hand washing is also highly recommended."

The Flu peaks in January and February and vaccinations are still ofered during these months. Click here for more information about the Flu.

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Adedeji Ogunfolu. Adedeji Ogunfolu is now a senior. Besides working dilligently on the Silver Chips Online staff, he is an extremely enthusiastic musician. He is not ashamed to tell people that he has been to band camp, but he prefers to call it orchestra camp. He has … More »

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