Flu Epidemic 2017-2018: Death Rates Are Increasing

Jan 29 2018

Flu Epidemic 2017-2018: Death Rates Are Increasing

The flu epidemic of 2017-2018 is one of the worst in recent memory. Indeed, this years flu vaccine has been a failure with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimating its effectiveness at only 10-15 per cent. There has also been many stories of flu-related deaths.

Adults and children who otherwise appeared healthy are dying from the flu shortly after developing symptoms. For example, Michael Messenger, 12, died just days after a rapid flu test at an urgent care center came back negative. Katharine Gallagher, 27, died five days after leaving work early with flu symptoms, which progressed to severe acute bronchial pneumonia. The question is: What are the risk factors associated with flu induced death?


flu epidemic



Flu Epidemic: Death Rate Statistics

The number of people who get sick with the flu, require hospitalization, or ultimately die from the virus changes annually depending on several factors, including which strain of the virus is dominant and the strength of that year’s vaccine. The CDC estimates that between 12,000 and 56,000 flu-related deaths occur each year.


Flu Epidemic: Risk Factors

Some victims may contract a second infection while already battling the flu, like pneumonia which can be severe enough to lead to organ failure and ultimately death. The flu can be further complicated by sepsis, that happens when bacteria have entered the bloodstream. Sepsis can lead to death.

Other people may die from the flu because their immune systems are already compromised by another illness like diabetes, asthma, or chronic lung disease.

But even healthy people can die of the flu, as news reports of deaths among children often suggest. In some cases, the body may increase immune defenses so much that infection-fighting proteins build up in the blood and damage other organs. For example, there can be an  immune response in the lungs, which makes it hard to breathe. Kids will complain of a shortness of breath.


Flu Epidemic: Who’s At Risk?

Seniors and children are most at risk for serious complications of the flu, including hospitalization and death. Older folks are more likely to have weakened immune systems due to other health issues. This can lead to developing a secondary infection. Kids can have an overwhelming immune system response because they have not had previous exposure to an aggressive flu strain.

This years flu virus, the H3N2 is causing many problems. Kids born after the last H3N2 virus won’t have pre-formed antibodies, and now it is virulent and spreads quickly.


Flu Epidemic: How To Stay Safe

Contact your doctor if you have severe, out-of-the-ordinary symptoms, such as shortness of breath.

Your doctor may decide to give you an antiviral treatment like Tamiflu or Relenza, or diagnosis and treat a secondary bacterial infection with antibiotics. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated to give your body the best shot at beating the flu safely and quickly.

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Barry G

Barry graduated from City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology.

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