This flu season is looking to be pretty severe. This week, Arizona Department of Health reported that there is a 758 percent increase in flu infections compared to last year – and that’s just statewide. Texas reported five times the number of people hospitalized as a result of the flu since September of this time last year. The Kentucky Department of Public Health announced a widespread outbreak of the flu which will likely last for the next few months. More states, including Connecticut, Ohio, New York, and South Carolina have also announced outbreaks. So far, 8 children have died from the flu this year, as have scores of the elderly.
That this year is extremely nasty isn’t very surprising to authorities or epidemiologists. According to Forbes, the Southern Hemisphere just emerged from a particularly rough flu season, with 2.5 times more reported cases of influenza than last year. This year’s flu virus, Influenza A(H3N2), is not only harsher than that of previous years but our current flu vaccine is also not very effective Research also suggests that flu vaccines are less effective in men than in women.
While the flu is mostly relegated to the status of painful nuisance or a week off of work, contributes to the deals of as many as 650,000 people annually. And while the elderly and children are most susceptible, the virus can also lead to death in healthy adults. While research suggests that women are likely able to handle the symptoms better — because higher estrogen is linked to a stronger immune system —that may not even be a good thing. Strong immune systems can sabotage the body in an effort to kill unknown threats.
Long, pretty scary, potentially feverish story short: go get your flu vaccine. Even if it’s not the most effective version ever, it’ll help you prevent contracting the virus as well as help shorten symptom duration. Also: Wash your damn hands. Cough into your elbow. Drink tea with lemon and preemptively guzzle matzo ball soup. 2017 has been bad enough.