The Flu is Everywhere :: Here’s What you Need to Know

While we don't love that we need to address this year's flu season, we are honored to have our experts at Next Level Urgent Care once again sharing valuable information.
The past few weeks have been brutal, with family and friends dropping like flies from the flu. It seems like this year, I know more people that have had the flu than who haven’t. Moms are missing work, kids are missing school, and everyone is doing all they can to feel better and prevent themselves to spreading the awful virus. 

 

This Flu Season is the Worst

This flu season is one of the worst in years.  It’s everywhere!  The virus is widespread in 49 states and Puerto Rico which means that you have two options for escape.  You can either cross the Pacific Ocean and travel to Hawaii, or you can fly to the US Virgin Islands :: hint, hint.  According to the Walgreens Flu Index, Texas is the hardest hit state in the nation with Houston being second only to El Paso in a ranking of affected cities. Next Level Urgent Care clinics have been flooded with ill patients seeking early treatment with magical antiviral medications to decrease the duration of illness.  Although those treatments are not considered cures for influenza, they can be amazing at halting dreadful flu sequelae within the first four doses.  

 

The Bad News

Unfortunately, this year the flu shot barely worked.  Efficacy has been estimated at 10 percent because of an unpredictable virus mutation. Despite this, we are still advising all to get immunized against flu. A recent study proves that annual flu shots over time can decrease your risk of mortality when you or your children are affected by flu.  This means that if you are infected you will handle the virus better than you would have without the vaccine. In case you are wondering, I immunize myself and my children every year.
 
One month ago the CDC released a heath advisory informing the public about increased Influenza A {H3N2} activity. This particular strain is more dangerous because it is associated with more hospitalizations and more death.  Most heath professional recognize anecdotally that it seems to be more aggressive and more contagious.  In Texas, flu fatalities are estimated at more than 2,355 since October 1, 2017, which is double what it was just two weeks ago according to the Texas department of state health services. Most of us will not require hospitalization, but influenza is the absolute worst. The hallmark symptoms are high fever and terrible body aches that make some feel like they were hit by a truck.  Oftentimes the symptoms start suddenly. Patients report that it hit them out of nowhere. Influenza zaps your energy and even the most fashionable patient will be reduced to pajamas in public when venturing to the doctor’s office for help.

 

Prepare and Protect Your Family

Besides vaccination, your best defense against influenza is avoidance.  Be careful when in public places.  Wash or sanitize your hands after touching door handles and grocery carts.  Avoid shaking hands with strangers.  Sanitize your office at work by cleaning keyboards, wiping telephones and spraying Lysol.  Daily vitamin C is a good health supplement, because it makes it harder for viruses to invade our bodies. 
 
If you catch the flu, try and keep your family flu-free by avoiding hugs and kisses and staying in your bedroom as much as possible. However, this year’s flu is SO contagious, that chances are, if one person in your family gets it, the others probably will too. The only thing worse than a sick mom is a sick mom who also has to take care of sick kids. If all of you are sick, reassure your little ones that you will all feel better soon. And mama, do what you have to do to take care of yourself. If this means throwing screen time limits away for a few days and soothing your kids with popsicles for breakfast, go for it. 
 
This flu season, all I really want to do is quarantine my family and avoid any people and places that might expose us to the flu. However, in this busy season of life with young kids, this is not really practical or possible. However, I will take extra precautions to keep my family safe. I won’t be surprised if we do get the flu this year, and just hope if we do, we can manage the symptoms and get everything we need to feel better quickly!
 
Has your family been down with the flu this year? Do you have any survival tips for moms? 

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About Robbyn L. Traylor, MD

Robbyn is a 6th generation Texan who was raised in Fort Bend county. She graduated from Kempner High School in 1997, and matriculated to Prairie View A&M University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. After this she attended the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine where she graduated in 2005. Dr. Traylor attended the Wesley Family Medicine residency program, and is now a board-certified family physician. During her professional career, she has gained experience in primary care, emergency medicine, and immediate care. Dr. Traylor has worked for Next Level Urgent Care since Spring of 2014 and now serves as Chief Medical Officer. She is grateful for the opportunity to provide quality care for patients of all ages in the greater Houston area. In her spare time Dr. Traylor enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her family.

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3 Responses to The Flu is Everywhere :: Here’s What you Need to Know

  1. Valerie January 31, 2018 at 1:26 pm #

    The stat of 10% of efficacy is inaccurate for the United States. That is a number out of Australia and is being inappropriately repeated.

    From the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm):

    “Some news reports have claimed the flu vaccine is expected to be only 10% effective this year, is this true?

    The 10% vaccine effectiveness (VE) figure reported in the news is an Australian interim estimate of the vaccine’s benefit against one flu virus (the H3N2 virus) that circulated in Australia during its most recent flu season. In the United States last season, overall vaccine effectiveness against all circulating flu viruses was 39%, and VE was only a bit lower (32%) against H3N2 viruses. Vaccine effectiveness against other flu viruses (i.e., H1N1 or B viruses) was‎ higher. The United States has a very robust network that estimates vaccine effectiveness each season. This season’s flu vaccine includes the same H3N2 vaccine component as last season, and most circulating H3N2 viruses that have been tested in the United States this season are still similar to the H3N2 vaccine virus. Based on this data, CDC believes U.S. VE estimates from last season are likely to be a better predictor of the flu vaccine benefits to expect this season against circulating H3N2 viruses in the United States. This is assuming minimal change to circulating H3N2 viruses. However, because it is early in the season, CDC flu experts cannot predict which flu viruses will predominate. Estimates of the flu vaccine’s effectiveness against circulating flu viruses in the United States will be available later in the season.”

  2. Dana Garrett February 7, 2018 at 7:46 pm #

    We use essential oils in our home and lather up before we go in public. We don’t get the flu shot and have never contracted the flu because our oils are the defense. I wish everyone, including schools and nurses offices, would educate themselves and get on board with diffusing oils that are proven to be antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial. The answer is there, they just need to read the message!

  3. Mallory Cervas February 12, 2018 at 8:38 pm #

    Can you please give a reference on why you are still recommending the flu vaccine when it has been shown to be so ineffective (this year)? Also, just in case this comes up, I would be interested to see evidence based information regarding claims from pediatricians as to why the flu shot will help make your flu “not as bad”.

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