Friday, March 02, 2007

What flu epidemic?

"Hey Doc, how's that flu thing going on this time of year," a patient asked me this week. "I mean, you practically made me get a flu shot last fall," he continued in a joking manner. I smiled (kind of).

The press really hasn't said anything about the human flu season. There are countless stories about bird flu, like, how it's in other parts of the world, or, how the United States is no way near ready for a bird flu pandemic.

So, being curious, I checked out the CDC (human) flu website. In case you didn't know, they have a week by week report during the flu season. And, I was surprised from their latest data which is from the week of February 17.

From a epidemiology standpoint, stating there is an "epidemic" occurring is misleading (but makes for a great post title). A small map is above, and in the nation's midsection, where the color is red, there is "widespread" influenza occurring. Here is the summary from the CDC flu website:
During week 7 (February 11 - February 17, 2007), influenza activity continued to increase in the United States... Twenty-four states reported widespread influenza activity; 14 states and New York City reported regional influenza activity; 10 states and the District of Columbia reported local influenza activity; and two states reported sporadic influenza activity. The reporting of widespread or regional influenza activity increased from 33 states for week 6 to 38 states for week 7. The percent of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza remained below baseline level.
The last sentence above is probably why there has been no press coverage on this story, yet. My state is in the "local activity" category, but almost surrounded by the widespread states. So, we'll have to see what happens.

My prediction is that when and if the "weather" story starts to be less newsworthy, then the press will start to pick up on the "widespread flu" story. By the way, as I tell all my patients, it's never too late to get that flu shot. That is, if you can still find one in March.


Anonymous said...

For whatever it's family had the flu over Christmas. One forgets how bad it really feels when it is 13 years between episodes. muddy

coaster1robert said...

I get flu shot each year,I'm safe.

Anonymous said...

Just as an fyi - here's a link to a new PSA from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases about preventing and treating the flu: (on behalf of NFID)

Redroach said...

I skipped this year's flu shot,which is bad.

Being in Texas, I can tell you that flu season is in full swing.
Too many kids out of school and it isn't because they are lazy.

Full o Flu.


Dr. Deb said...

An ounce of prevention.....

Unknown said...

I also skipped my flu shot this year, since I'm not working with patients right now. So far, so good! After looking at the map I have to say I hope I don't regret it!

Visionary & Medium Extraordinaire said...

What's your theory on some people catching any/all germs that are out there and some people never ever catching anything.
Why is that?
I for instance have never had a flue shot, and I may get a little cold once every three year. But I almost never have to see inside a docs office.
Why so some people always get sick, and others not?

Anonymous said...

Hello Everybody,
I always wonder about this too, why people get ill while others don’t?
In general I don't get the flu shot and sometimes I do catch cold and sometimes I don’t.
The strange thing I noticed about this is; when winter passes safely without problems -major probs off course:) and I somehow feel peace and calm, I rarely catch a cold.
And on the contrary when I feel overwhelmed with problems, down & insecure most of the time, I catch cold almost monthly & it lasts for 10 days each time!
So I guess it's related to your inside feelings & general mood.....don't know just a guess but no scientific evidence...may be Dr. A can help here:).

Just a reader.

katy said...

flu shot is overed to high risk patients over here hubby gets i dont! never had the flu and i sure dont want to, got a bad cold at the moment and that is bad enough!

Not Nurse Ratched said...

I never get the flu unless I get a flu shot: then I'm guaranteed to get it. It makes no sense. It's bad luck---superstition! Yet I was made to get a flu shot for nursing school, and bam: I have the flu. Gah. Flu sux.

Mimi Lenox said...

Flu shots give me the flu.

Ajit said...

We have flu cases round the year , with every change of season.We manage them by advising rest and symptomatic treatment,unless there is secondary infection when antibiotics come into play.

Flu shots are a rare thing asked for by the patients as also rarely advised by doctors.Much importance to flu shots seems to be given in the western world probably because the climate induces complications to the otherwise harmless attack of flu.

Here in the tropical climate,we rarely come across gross complications of flu,and may be the reason for the less use of this vaccine,though it is easily available.I feel elderly people,especially in the cooler climates of northern India,should get a flu shot as they are prone to respiratory complications.

Anonymous said...

Throughout my 20's and 30's I bagged the flu shot thinking I was tough enough to ward off anything that came my way diseasewise. I was constantly sick with bronchitis and the flu during most of those winters. When I wised up in my 40's, I realized getting a flu shot was my "secret" to good health. I haven't had a cold in 10 years and the flu in about 15.

I also wash my hands alot.


Grandparents Corner said...

Waaaaahhhhhh Texas is "widespread"?
Seriously... did anyone ever notice that if there's something going on in the news ... it is either happening in Texas or Florida? LOL

Okay, back to the topic. Had my flu shot this year. Now, if they just had one for bronchitis which is a yearly thing for me!!!

Oh, and a late congrats on hitting Fox News!