Flu-related deaths in children are on the rise

Here's why flu season is so bad this year — and how you can protect yourself from catching it

What's happening and what you need to know in Central Jersey.

Of the 30 US children who have died from the flu so far this season, some 85 percent had not been vaccinated, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who urged Americans to get flu shots amid one of the most severe flu seasons in years.

In a follow-up on the flu situation in the United Kingdom this season, seasonal flu activity levels have continued to increase in the last week across the UK but various indicators show the rate of increase is slowing, according to a Public Health England (PHE) report.

How is New Jersey faring against the rest of the country in influenza cases?

The CDC does not have numbers for adult deaths from the flu because adult flu is not a reportable disease in all US states.

Right now, most of the country is seeing high activity of the H3N2 flu strain-the most risky of the four seasonal flu strains.

The H3N2 virus strain, which is known to cause more hospitalizations and more deaths, is the dominant strain this season so far, Brammer said.

It can cause a miserable but relatively mild illness in many people, but more severe illness in others. The CDC recently sent out a health advisory through the national Health Alert Network, informing medical care providers of clinical implications and treatment recommendations for the predominating strain. Data from this week indicates that 6.3% of reported patient visits were due to influenza-like illness (up from 5.8% a week ago).

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans.

There is evidence that this year's flu is slowing, though that may be a statistical blip.

But, you could prevent infection from the H3N2 virus by simply keeping warm, according to the NHS. As of this writing, vaccines have only been around 30 percent effective. The new method that scientists are using, unlike the old method, uses a live virus. Vaccines are less protective if strains are different than predicted and if unexpected mutations occur. Vaccine producers are proposing changing the methodology of production from chicken eggs to cell cultures, which would shorten the production process. "If anyone else comes in contact with them, then there's a chance they could catch the flu". Most of the people who were hospitalized and the person who died had one or more health or age factor that put them at high risk of serious flu-related complications. Flu seasons typically extend into spring, and the vaccine protects not just you, but the vulnerable people around you, Plescia said: "No one wants to be the cause of an infant or elderly person getting the flu".

How many people have died from the flu this season?

What complications can accompany the flu? Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The last two are more common in children than adults. The bad news is that we might not have even reached the peak season yet, which means that if you haven't gotten the flu yet, you can still protect yourself.

If you feel as if you're having trouble breathing, or if your fever can't be controlled with medication such as Tylenol, check with your doctor.

Melissa Szarzynsai, infection control manager at Shore Medical Center, said she reminds her four children nearly hourly to wash their hands. The CDC is here to debunk that theory and says people are less often infected with the flu by doing that. Immunity takes approximately two weeks, during which good hygiene - washing hands and coughing into sleeves - can be reinforced. However, when sick and in doubt, it is always reasonable to call and seek medical attention.

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