This year’s predominant influenza strain is the Influenza A (H1N1) variety, otherwise known as “swine flu.” That much was predictable, and all forms of influenza vaccine produced for this 2013-2014 flu season were designed to prevent H1N1. What’s also predictable is how bad Influenza A (and specifically H1N1) can be. According to Amy McConnell Schaarsmith in Tuesday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
This year’s flu season already is showing its dangerous side, especially for relatively young and middle-aged adults who wouldn’t normally seem to be vulnerable, according to local health experts.
In many years, influenza usually causes complications including hospitalization and death in young children and the elderly. But this year, a ferocious strain of the H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, virus has so damaged the lungs of four Allegheny General Hospital patients aged 35 to 65 that their blood must be circulated through heart-lung machines because their breathing no longer works properly, said Bob Moraca, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side.
In addition, five influenza patients have been placed on heart-lung machines at UPMC hospitals, including one person who died, said Donald M. Yealy, chairman of emergency medicine at UPMC.
That number of cases might be a bad sign of things to come, said Dr. Moraca, director of the heart-lung machine services at Allegheny General.
If you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, you’ve waited long enough. Call your pediatrician to get your children immunized NOW. Call your own doctor and get yourself a flu shot NOW. (Most pharmacies have flu vaccine available for adults on a walk-in basis.)
It’s not too late. Call NOW.
More PediaBlog on influenza here.