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This year's flu expected to hit more young and middle-aged adults

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Dominant flu strain likely

This year’s flu season is quickly spreading throughout the United States, especially in the south where the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the H1N1 virus is expected to sicken more young and middle-aged adults than older people.

H1N1 is making a comeback this year as the dominant flu strain circulating early in the season, according to the CDC. The H1N1 was last seen during the flu pandemic in 2009, and the strain is known for predominantly infecting younger adults between the ages of 18 and 49 years old, as well as Baby Boomers between the ages of 49 and 64.

The CDC also reports that six states are already showing high levels of flu activity, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Officials with the CDC have already issued a warning about numerous reports of this year’s flu causing serious respiratory illness – and even death – in younger and middle-aged adults, many of whom had the H1N1 strain. The agency reports one death in Texas, where a 17-year-old who had other health issues died from the flu, which is widespread throughout the state.

Is it the flu or a cold?

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Meanwhile, the CDC is continuing to monitor flu activity across the U.S., looking for any changes in this year’s H1N1 virus that may indicate the strain is more severe or faster spreading. However, no changes have been detected as of yet.

Although nobody knows how severe this year’s flu season will get, the best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu shot.

According to the CDC, everyone who is 6 months and older should get a flu vaccination on a yearly basis. Last year, government statistics show that some 6.6 million flu cases were prevented as a result of flu shots.

In addition to protecting you and your family against influenza, research suggests that a flu shot may also help prevent heart disease.

So if you, like many Americans, have not yet scheduled an appointment for a flu shot, it’s still not too late.

SOURCE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC Official Health Advisory/Health Alert Network (HAN), Notice to Clinicians: Early Reports of pH1N1-Associated Illnesses for the 2013-14 Influenza Season, published Dec. 24, 2013.