Flu Facts - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Flu Facts

Flu Fact #1
In the U.S., flu hospitalizes more than 114,000 people every year. More than half of those hospitalized are under 65.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #2
Each year in the United States, flu and complications of the flu kill 36,000 people-more than any other vaccine-preventable illness.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #3
Influenza can make you miss work, school, or special holiday get-togethers-it can take weeks to recover fully, costing you time and energy as well as money.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #4
People over 65, very young children, people with certain health problems, and pregnant women are at high risk for complications from flu, but many of them can't be vaccinated. Their best protection is from the immunity of others.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #5
Studies indicate that vaccination rates for those at high risk for complications are about 20% for those 18-49 years old and about 40% for those 50-64 years old.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #6
A Disease with a Long History
The name "influenza" originated in 15th century Italy, from an epidemic attributed to the influence of the stars. Since that time, epidemics and pandemics have been reported regularly.

A "pandemic" is a world-wide epidemic that starts from single focus or locus of disease and spread along routes of travel. The first flu pandemic (world-wide epidemic) seems to have occurred in 1580. At least 4 flu pandemics occurred in the 19th century, and 3 occurred in the 20th century.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #7
A Deadly Disease
The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919 caused an estimated 21 million deaths worldwide. More Americans (an estimated 500,000) died during the Spanish flu pandemic than in all wars of the 20th century combined.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #8
Flu ABCs
Influenza occurs as a result of infection by one or more of the three flu virus strains. Influenza A causes moderate to severe illness, affects all age groups, and occurs in humans and animals such as pigs, poultry, and wild birds.

Influenza B generally causes milder disease than type A, affects only humans, and primarily occurs in children. Influenza C is rarely reported and has not been associated with epidemics of flu.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #9
The Name Gives It Away
The name of a particular flu virus includes the location where the virus was first isolated and the year the virus was isolated. For example, the current vaccine is includes the virus A/Moscow/10/99 (H3N2)-like. This is an influenza A type virus, isolated in Moscow in October 1999. It contains surface proteins identified as similar to the H3N2 proteins.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #10
Overdue for More Flu?
Pandemics occur at irregular intervals of 10 to 40 years. A flu pandemic is now "overdue"-the last pandemic occurred in 1968-1969. Both epidemics and pandemics occur because flu viruses mutate over time, probably due to genetic recombination. Pandemics are associated with major changes in Influenza A virus.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #11
Vaccines Built Just for Your Flu
Flu vaccines are "designer vaccines" built to protect against the currently circulating virus strains. Because flu viruses mutate regularly, vaccines must be regularly changed to suit the circulating viruses. For protection, you need the vaccine designed for this season's circulating flu virus.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #12
Flu Can Sneak Up on You
Only about 50% of infected persons develop classic flu symptoms. Some people may have flu but may not have symptoms associated with flu, so it is possible to contract flu from someone who does not appear to have the flu.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #13
Young and Old at Risk
Both the elderly AND infants are at risk from flu. For children younger than 12 months, hospitalization related to flu occurs at about the same rate as for people 65 and older.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #14
"New" Vaccine is No Baby
The "new" intranasal flu vaccine has been under development for over 20 years. As of 2000, it was widely used in Russia for adult immunization.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #15
Flu Vaccine Doses for Children
Children 6 months to 9 years who receive the flu vaccine for the first time need 2 doses 1 month to 10 weeks apart. Check with your doctor or healthcare professional for exact recommendations.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #16
Watch Out for Flu in December and February
In the Northern Hemisphere, flu activity peaks in December-March. In the Southern Hemisphere, flu activity peaks in April-September. During the period 1976-2001, peak activity for flu in the U. S. occurred most frequently in February. The second greatest number of peaks of flu activity over the same period occurred in December.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #17
Flu Symptoms
Classic flu symptoms include very sudden fever, muscle aches (mostly in the back), sore throat, and a non-productive cough (no phlegm or sputum). The flu is most commonly confused with colds. Colds usually are not associated with the same sudden fever and muscle aches, and colds more frequently than flu are associated with a runny nose.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #18
Flu Complications
The most common complication of flu is pneumonia, usually secondary bacterial pneumonia. Many flu-related hospitalizations and deaths involve pneumonia. Both flu and pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccines are strongly recommended for the elderly.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 7th ed. (January 2003) http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/pink/default.htm (see Chapter on Influenza)


Flu Fact #19
Flu is for humans and animals.
Flu viruses move from animal to human populations. Usually, flu viruses move first from chickens to pigs, and then from pigs to humans. Flu viruses are also found in wild birds.

Source: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/flu.htm


Flu Fact #20
Near Miss with Flu
In 1997, another "near miss" pandemic occurred when 18 people in Hong Kong became ill from a new flu virus. Six of the infected people subsequently died. The avian flu never became a pandemic, however, because it didn't easily spread from person to person. In addition, public health authorities ordered the slaughter of all live chickens in Hong Kong.

Source: http://www.lungusa.org/diseases/influenza_factsheet.html


Flu Fact #21
Flu Can Kill
Influenza and pneumonia combined are the seventh leading cause of death among all Americans and the fifth leading cause of death among all Americans over the age of 65. Influenza and pneumonia together resulted in 65,313 deaths in 2002. Influenza caused 1,765 deaths alone.

Source: http://www.lungusa.org/diseases/influenza_factsheet.html


Flu Fact #22
Flu Case Loads in the U. S.
In 1996, there were more than 95 million estimated cases of influenza nationwide, resulting in 191.9 million bed days.

Source: http://www.lungusa.org/diseases/influenza_factsheet.html


Flu Fact #23
Why Can You Get Flu Again and Again?
A person can have influenza more than once because several related viruses cause flu and because the viruses mutate regularly. The virus that causes your influenza may belong to different strains of one of three different influenza virus families, A, B, or C. Type A viruses tend to have a disproportionate effect on adults, Type B viruses have a disproportionate effect on children. Both A and B have strains that cause illness of varying severity. The influenza A family has more strains than the B family.

Source: http://www.lungusa.org/diseases/influenza_factsheet.html


Flu Fact #24
Pay a Little or a Lot
Influenza vaccines are covered by Medicare and other health insurance programs. You can get your flu vaccine for little or no cost. The cost of having the disease is much greater than the cost of the vaccine.

Source: http://www.lungusa.org/diseases/influenza_factsheet.html


Flu Fact #25
Flu and Asthma Don't Mix
The flu vaccine is safe for people with asthma and is in fact recommended for people with asthma. The flu shot cannot give you the flu and can protect you from flu entirely or significantly lessen the intensity of the sickness if you get the flu.

Source: http://www.lungusa.org/diseases/influenza_factsheet.html


Flu Fact #266
Pandemics: World-wide Flu
Every 10 years of so, an influenza virus strain appears that is dramatically different from the other members of its family. When this major change occurs a worldwide epidemic, called a pandemic, almost inevitably follows. Few people have antibodies that are effective against the new virus.

Source: WHO Influenza Fact Sheet http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/2003/fs211/en/


Flu Fact #27
Incubating the Flu
The influenza virus enters the body through the nose or throat. It then takes between one and four days for the person to develop symptoms. Someone suffering from influenza can be infectious from the day before they develop symptoms until seven days afterwards.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #28
Flu Drift and Shift
One of the most important features about influenza viruses is that their structure changes slightly but frequently over time (a process known as "drift"), and that this process results in the appearance of different strains that circulate each year. The composition of the flu vaccine is changed each year to help protect people from the strains of influenza virus that are expected to be the most common ones circulating during the coming flu season.

In some years, the influenza virus changes dramatically and unexpectedly through a process known as "shift." Shift results in the appearance of a new influenza virus to which few (if any) people are immune. If this new virus spreads easily from person to person, it could quickly travel around the world and cause increased levels of serious illness and death, affecting millions of people. This is called an influenza pandemic.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #29
1918: Spanish Flu
The Spanish Influenza pandemic is the catastrophe against which all modern pandemics are measured. It is estimated that approximately 20 to 40 percent of the worldwide population became ill and that over 20 million people died. Between September 1918 and April 1919, approximately 500,000 deaths from the flu occurred in the U.S. alone. Many people died from this very quickly. Some people who felt well in the morning became sick by noon, and were dead by nightfall. Those who did not succumb to the disease within the first few days often died of complications from the flu (such as pneumonia) caused by bacteria.

One of the most unusual aspects of the Spanish flu was its ability to kill young adults. The reasons for this remain uncertain. With the Spanish flu, mortality rates were high among healthy adults as well as the usual high-risk groups. The attack rate and mortality was highest among adults 20 to 50 years old. The severity of that virus has not been seen again.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #30
1957: Asian Flu
In February 1957, the Asian influenza pandemic was first identified in the Far East. Immunity to this strain was rare in people less than 65 years of age, and a pandemic was predicted. In preparation, vaccine production began in late May 1957, and health officials increased surveillance for flu outbreaks.

Unlike the virus that caused the 1918 pandemic, the 1957 pandemic virus was quickly identified, due to advances in scientific technology. Vaccine was available in limited supply by August 1957. The virus came to the U.S. quietly, with a series of small outbreaks over the summer of 1957. When U.S. children went back to school in the fall, they spread the disease in classrooms and brought it home to their families. Infection rates were highest among school children, young adults, and pregnant women in October 1957. Most influenza-and pneumonia-related deaths occurred between September 1957 and March 1958. The elderly had the highest rates of death.

By December 1957, the worst seemed to be over. However, during January and February 1958, there was another wave of illness among the elderly. This is an example of the potential "second wave" of infections that can develop during a pandemic. The disease infects one group of people first, infections appear to decrease and then infections increase in a different part of the population. Although the Asian flu pandemic was not as devastating as the Spanish flu, about 69,800 people in the U.S. died.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #31
1968: Hong Kong Flu
In early 1968, the Hong Kong influenza pandemic was first detected in Hong Kong. The first cases in the U.S. were detected as early as September of that year, but illness did not become widespread in the U.S. until December. Deaths from this virus peaked in December 1968 and January 1969. Those over the age of 65 were most likely to die. The same virus returned in 1970 and 1972. The number of deaths between September 1968 and March 1969 for this pandemic was 33,800, making it the mildest pandemic in the 20th century.

There could be several reasons why fewer people in the U.S. died due to this virus. First, the Hong Kong flu virus was similar in some ways to the Asian flu virus that circulated between 1957 and 1968. Earlier infections by the Asian flu virus might have provided some immunity against the Hong Kong flu virus that may have helped to reduce the severity of illness during the Hong Kong pandemic. Second, instead of peaking in September or October, like pandemic influenza had in the previous two pandemics, this pandemic did not gain momentum until near the school holidays in December. Since children were at home and did not infect one another at school, the rate of influenza illness among schoolchildren and their families declined. Third, improved medical care and antibiotics that are more effective for secondary bacterial infections were available for those who became ill.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #32
1976: Swine Flu Scare
When a novel virus was first identified at Fort Dix, it was labeled the "killer flu." Experts were extremely concerned because the virus was thought to be related to the Spanish flu virus of 1918. The concern that a major pandemic could sweep across the world led to a mass vaccination campaign in the United States. In fact, the virus--later named "swine flu"--never moved outside the Fort Dix area. Research on the virus later showed that if it had spread, it would probably have been much less deadly than the Spanish flu.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #33
1977: Russian Flu Scare
In May 1977, the influenza A/H1N1 viruses isolated in northern China spread rapidly and caused epidemic disease in children and young adults (those younger than 23 years) worldwide. The 1977 virus was similar to other flu (A/H1N1) viruses that had circulated before 1957. (In 1957, the A/H1N1 virus was replaced by the new A/H2N2 viruses). Why did the flu strike people in this age group?

Because of the timing of the appearance of these viruses, persons born before 1957 were likely to have been exposed to these particular flu viruses and to have developed immunity against them. Therefore, when the A/H1N1 virus reappeared in 1977, many people over the age of 23 had some protection against the virus. It was primarily younger people (those born after 1957) who became ill from A/H1N1 infections. By January 1978, the virus had spread around the world, including the United States. Because illness occurred primarily in children, this event was not considered a true pandemic. Vaccine containing this virus was not produced in time for the 1977-78 season, but the virus was included in the 1978-79 vaccine.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #34
1997: Avian Flu Scare
The most recent pandemic "scares" occurred in 1997 and 1999. In 1997, at least a few hundred people became infected with the avian A/H5N1 flu virus in Hong Kong and 18 people were hospitalized. Six of the hospitalized persons died. This virus was different because it moved directly from chickens to people, rather than having been altered by infecting pigs as an intermediate host. In addition, many of the most severe illnesses occurred in young adults similar to illnesses caused by the 1918 Spanish flu virus. To prevent the spread of this virus, all chickens (approximately 1.5 million) in Hong Kong were slaughtered. The avian flu did not easily spread from one person to another, and after the poultry slaughter, no new human infections were found.

In 1999, another novel avian flu virus - A/H9N2 - was found that caused illnesses in two children in Hong Kong. Although both of these viruses have not gone on to start pandemics, their continued presence in birds, their ability to infect humans, and the ability of influenza viruses to change and become more transmissible among people is an ongoing concern.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/od/nvpo/pandemics/flu3.htm


Flu Fact #35
Contagious Stage
The period when an infected person is contagious depends on the age of the person. Adults may be contagious from one day prior to becoming sick and for three to seven days after they first develop symptoms. Some children may be contagious for longer than a week.

Incubation The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about one to four days, with an average of about two days.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluinfo.htm


Flu Fact #36
Avoid Aspirin When Children Have Flu
Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms - and particularly fever - without first speaking to your doctor. Giving aspirin to children and teenagers who have influenza can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome. Children or teenagers with the flu should get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, and take medicines that contain no aspirin to relieve symptoms.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluinfo.htm


Flu Fact #37
Get Your Flu Vaccine, Even "Late" in the Season
Vaccine should continue to be offered to unvaccinated persons throughout the flu season as long as vaccine is still available. Once you get a flu shot, your body makes protective antibodies in about two weeks.


Flu Fact #38
In Pandemics, the Flu Comes for Everyone
This flu [the Spanish flu] was a great leveler of men; it recognized neither social order nor economic status. It struck with impunity among the rich and famous, as well as the lowly and the meek. Among its more well-known victims: Silent screen star Harold Lockwood, swimmer Harry Elionsky, "Admiral Dot," one of PT Barnum's first midgets, Irmy Cody Garlow, the daughter of Buffalo Bill Cody, General John Pershing, Franklin Roosevelt, actress Mary Pickford, and President Woodrow Wilson.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/influenza/sfeature/victims.htm PBS American Experience Website


Flu Fact #39
Flu Virus: A Simple Life Form that Needs You
Flu is caused by a virus called the influenza virus. Viruses are the smallest form of life and, unlike bacteria, can only reproduce in the living cells which they infect. (That's one reason why vaccines can help stop flu.) There are three types of influenza viruses, influenza A, B and C. Influenza A can infect humans and other animals while influenza B and C infect humans. Influenza C virus causes a very mild illness and does not cause epidemics. When viewed through special microscopes called electron microscopes, influenza viruses are shaped like spheres or filaments.


Flu Fact #40
Flu Renews Itself
Every 10 years of so, an influenza virus strain appears that is dramatically different from the other members of its family. When this major change occurs a worldwide epidemic, called a pandemic, almost inevitably follows. Few people have antibodies that are effective against the new virus.

Source: http://www.lungusa.org/diseases/luninfluenz.html#what American Lung Association web site


Flu Fact #41
From Pigs to People
Pigs can be infected with both human and avian influenza viruses in addition to swine influenza viruses. Infected pigs get symptoms similar to humans, such as cough, fever, and runny nose. Because pigs are susceptible to avian, human, and swine influenza viruses, they potentially may be infected with influenza viruses from different species (e.g., ducks and humans) at the same time. If this happens, it is possible for the genes of these viruses to mix and create a new virus (this is "genetic recombination").

For example, if a pig were infected with a human influenza virus and an avian influenza virus at the same time, the viruses could mix (reassort) and produce a new virus that had most of the genes from the human virus, but parts (a hemagglutinin and/or neuraminidase) from the avian virus. The resulting new virus would likely be able to infect humans and spread from person to person, but it would have surface proteins (the hemagglutinin and/or neuraminidase) not previously seen in influenza viruses that infect humans. This type of major change in the influenza A viruses is known as "antigenic shift." If this new virus causes illness in people and can be transmitted easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic can occur.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/viruses.htm


Source:  Department of Health and Human Services
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