2009 Influenza Update


Think you’ve gotten by this season without getting the flu?

Think again. The worst of this year’s influenza season hasn’t hit yet.

CDC statistics show that between 1983 and 2008, the peak influenza activity is more than twice as likely to occur in February than in any other month.

Most states were starting to see “sporadic” influenza activity in mid-January – the latest data available right now.

Google Flu Trends is showing a slow but steady rise in inquiries. It also shows that January and February are typically the most active months for web searches about influenza year after year.

It’s almost heeeere…

Hope you got your flu shot.


  1. So depressed after reading this. I now have an emergency. I need my flu shot STAT! I think I’ll rush to the ED for it.

  2. Do you think that the strains in this season’s flu vaccine will provide adequate protection from the viruses currently circulating? I visited the CDC website, but had some difficulty making heads or tails of it.

    ps. Love your blog. Even though I’m a floor nurse.

  3. A Very Concerning Sub-Microscopic Infectious Agent

    Influenza is the virus responsible for the disease that has its name. This virus created the last pandemic in the United States less than 100 years ago. When this occurred, the whole world experienced about 50 million deaths due to malicious virus.
    The Influenza pandemic that occurred before the 1918 Spanish Flu occurred about thirty years before this one. Influenza epidemics, however, occur every 9 months or so. The disease of Influenza is caused by this virus penetrating a host, which could be a human or an animal. Once infected, the virus replicates within the cell of the host in the cell’s cytoplasm. To survive, the influenza virus targets an enzyme called polymerace that directs the content of this cell to produce proteins the virus needs to survive.
    With the 1918 pandemic, It is understood that it was called the Spanish Flu because the first human case was identified in Spain. The pandemic ended up killing more than those that died during WWI.
    Understandably there was panic among people worldwide, as the influenza virus itself was not discovered until 1933, so the mystery was rather frightening of what was happening at that time.
    Those who survived have allowed others to obtain antibodies from them to develop other antibodies for future viral outbreaks that may occur with this type of virus.
    This last influenza pandemic also allowed others to obtain this virus from those who died as a result to facilitate effective treatments and vaccines for viral outbreaks that may happen in the future as well.
    The virus responsible for the 1918 pandemic was an avian influenza. Nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. died as the result of the Spanish Flu- and those that did die was due often to a bacterial pneumonia that followed the viral invasion and damage. Ultimately, this pandemic killed nearly 3 percent of humans infected. Normally, an influenza strain may kill less than one percent of those infected during a typical flu season.
    The Spanish Flu caused an unusually severe immune response in the human host which made it very deadly due to overkill of the cells of this host. The influenza virus has this ability on occasion, which makes it very deadly to its host.
    The influenza viruses are categorized as A, B, and C. The Influenza A virus is the one that historically has caused pandemics that have developed-, such as the Spanish Flu Pandemic.
    The other influenza pandemics primarily have occurred in countries in Asia.
    With influenza, it is understood that the disease influenza is a disease caused by a RNA virus that can now infect and kill both mammals and birds. In fact, at least one particular virus can mutate to where it can be shared between the two life forms and multiply within each one of them with ease.
    Unlike coryza, influenza expresses symptoms more severely, and usually lasts two weeks until one recovers who has the flu. Influenza, however, poses a danger to some with compromised immune systems, such as the chronically ill, so the recommendation is greater in such populations, along with women who may be pregnant during the flu season, residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities.
    Health care personnel are encouraged to get the flu vaccine as well. However this vaccine, as will be described in a moment, offers no guarantee that the one immunized by this vaccine will not acquire the flu.
    Such populations of those recommended to receive the flu vaccination are those believed to need the protection the vaccine may offer the most. This is of concern, as Influenza can progress rapidly into the more serious illness of pneumonia.
    Symptoms of influenza usually start to express themselves symptomatically about two days or so after being infected with the virus. Over 10 percent of the population is infected with this virus every year- resulting in about 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 40,000 deaths.
    This season’s first influenza case was identified in Delaware in November of 2008, and it was a type B influenza strain.
    The flu vaccination is trivalent- meaning it contains three viral strains of suspected viruses for flu outbreaks during a particular winter season, as determined by the World Health Organization, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, and other organizations.
    Yet one should keep in mind that these three strains of influenza may not even exist in a particular flu season. The vaccination is a guess, at best, yet is certainly better than the absence of a flu vaccination.
    Unfortunately, the influenza vaccine administered last flu season was largely ineffective due to unsuspected strains of the virus infecting others, although about 140 million injections of this vaccine were administered, and this proved to be pointless for preventative medicine.
    After giving the vaccination dose to one, it takes about 10 days for that person to build up the immunity for the disease of influenza. The months of October to December are recommended to receive this vaccine. And the vaccine is about 50 percent effective in offering protection from influenza, according to others, if one calculates the previous flu seasons with flu vaccinations.
    Vaccines are a catalyst for antibody production in humans, which protect them against the virus, if it happens to present itself within them.
    Influenza vaccines can be given by injection or nasally.
    Anti-virals, on the other hand, decrease greatly the ability for viruses to reproduce once established in a human. That seems like it should be a focus during viral seasons instead of any vaccination that exist today regarding the disease of influenza.
    The Avian influenza that has been mentioned earlier is potentially the next flu pandemic- as humans have no immunity to what is called the H5N1 virus- on of about 1 strains of avian Influenza, as it has already been identified.
    For an Influenza pandemic to occur, which means a global disease existence and presence, the virus must emerge from another species to humans without a strong immune system- as well as the ability to make more humans ill than normal due to the constant mutation of the influenza virus.
    Also, the virus must be highly contagious for a pandemic to occur. This particular virus that has been identified is just that.
    The H5N1 virus appears to replicate in the human GI tract and also has a longer incubation period in humans, one to two weeks, compared with other influenza strains.
    The H5N1 Avian influenza virus seems to have become progressively more pathogenic in the past decade, according to others. The letters H and N are the letters of proteins that protrude from the viral shell.
    It is these proteins that change so often with the influenza virus, and which is why we continue to be infected with this virus.
    With the Avian Influenza existing with the H5N1 strain, millions of birds have been slaughtered due to the danger and unpredictability of this strain.
    The first human case infected with this strain occurred in China in 1997. The first human avian flu case outside of China was identified in 2003 in the Netherlands.
    The first recorded incidence of human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus was in Thailand in 2004. In 2006, it was discovered that the H5N1 had split into two separate strains.
    There have been outbreaks of Avian flu in about 15 countries in the world so far- with Indonesia being the worst. Migratory birds spread this influenza virus between continents.
    The pathogenic strength of the H5N1 strain varies due to constant re-assortment or switching of genetic material between the viruses- essentially creating a hybrid of what it was before this occurs.
    So far, about 300 people worldwide have been infected with this strain- and about half have died from the infection. Vaccinations are being developed and reformulated constantly at this time due to the pandemic threat of the H5N1 Influenza virus.
    Yet, the normal flu season that is now occurring was supplied with 150 million vaccines in the United States. However, some studies have shown that this vaccine is rather ineffective based on incidences of the acquisition of the influenza virus by others anyway.

    The influenza season peaks between the months of January and March. The vaccine for this influenza season is manufactured by 6 different companies.
    Yet the strains chosen contain what are speculated influenza viruses, so this does not eliminate the chance of a new and dominant influenza viral strain that possibly could cause a pandemic regardless if one is vaccinated for influenza. Also, it takes manufacturers about 6 months to make and formulate the influenza vaccination.
    There is a vaccine for this illness that is produced every year according to which type of virus types that may be prevalent during a particular flu season. If influenza occurs in a human host, the results may be the patient acquiring pneumonia or meningitis is possible, as well as their ability to transmit such a virus to another.
    The presence of influenza can be widespread in certain states, yet not others. The vaccination is recommended to be administered to those who are at high risk, such as the chronically ill.
    Also, it is recommended that those under 18 years of age get the vaccine, as well as those people over the age of 50. Furthermore, those people who regularly take aspirin should receive the vaccine, as the influenza disease can become a catalyst for what is called Reye’s Syndrome.
    Pregnant women should receive the vaccine as well- as there are many vaccines available to hopefully prevent this potentially dangerous viral disease, perhaps.
    Dan Abshear

  4. Thank you Dan for this useful information. Add me to google trends. I had a flu shot in the fall, a fever of 101.1 Sunday evening, have been down and up since then, was 101.7 this Wednesday afternoon. I haven’t had the real flu for decades, and remember being sick a week plus a week to get back to normal years ago (Hong Kong flu). This is clearly a virus, but is it the “real flu” to be so relatively mild? p.s. My wife and I volunteer with the Burmese immigrant community in Philadelphia. They get stuck with our diseases when they arrive here — could I have something in return?

  5. Hi,I woke up Monday morning (March 9th 2009) in a cold sweat. I was unable to get out of bed for most of the day. Tuesday morning pretty much the same but I at least made it to my couch. Wednesday felt a bit better and thought if I got up went to work, I would feel better. Well, I managed to stay at work for 4 hours then had to call in relief and go back home which, is where I stayed the remainder of the day. I tried to eat and drink but everything that I ingested left as fast as it went in. Today, I thought I was much much better but, when I got out of bed my back and stomach hurt so bad, I thought i was in a severe car accident. I am still unable to hold anything in. I was a faithful coffee drinker and smoker but, I haven’t been able to drink anymore than 1/2 cup of coffee and maybe 10 – 12 cigarettes this week. I am not complaining about the smokes due to I am a member at my local gym, but I miss my coffee. I am hoping to feel back to normal real soon as I do not like to sit around the house and be bored, sick or not. I do wish everyone who is ill or has been ill with this strain.

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