Winter, commonly referred to as the season of sickness, has seen a recent flu epidemic. Hundreds of thousands of students nationwide have contracted this virus, leading to school shut downs in 12 states. According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between October 1, 2018 and January 19, 2019, there have been 11.4 million recorded flu cases, 5.4 million recorded medical visits, and 136,000 flu-related hospitalizations. Furthermore, there have been a tragic 22 flu-related deaths in this season alone.
The CDC stated that there were approximately 14.8 hospitalizations for every 100,000 people during the week ending on January 19. For ages 65 and up there were 38.3 hospitalizations for every 100,000 people and 26.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 for ages 4 or below. This is not the only year in which flu viruses have been flourishing. For example, in 2015-16 hospitalization rates were 31.4 per 100,00. In 2017-18, hospitalization rates were 102.8 per 100,00. Public schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have all been closed for one day or longer due to flu related issues. Private schools in California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana and West Virginia have also experienced similar closures. This season, the H1N1 virus is the most common influenza A strait. Some symptoms include chills, fatigue, fever, dry mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle pain, sore throats, and other symptoms. However, according to the CDC, the H3 virus is predominant in the southeast.
The United States is not the only country facing a flu epidemic. China has also been undergoing similar challenges. Since the start of the flu season 210 people have contracted the flu and 86 have died as a result. On January 24th the Chinese government announced a Lunar New Year Holiday a couple of days early. More than a third of kindergarten and childcare centers have reported major flu outbreaks and canceled school 7 days prior to break. Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, Secretary for Food and Health, said that school cancelations were a way to prevent the disease from spreading. Dr. Ho pak-leung, a microbiologist from the University of Hong Kong, stated, “Some colleagues working in hospital wards described [the environment] as similar to a war-zone hospital.” His statement provides a terrifying insight into how the flu has been affecting China in recent weeks.
Whether or not you live in China or the United States it is vital that you protect yourself from contracting H1N1, H3, or any other type of virus. Some protective measures to insure that you are safe and secure during the winter season are to wash your hands, wear a mask in public areas, avoid sitting in the same area as an infected person, and lastly get vaccinated.