Flu Comes Early to Alabama

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Experts Predict Bad Flu Season

Have you gotten your flu vaccine yet? Officials at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the flu season is starting earlier this year (the earlier start in a decade), and they predict it will be a bad flu year. Alabama and four other southern states are seeing the most flu activity right now.

The strain of flu that’s most prevalent this year is H3N2, not to be confused with the H3N2v that sickened kids at county fairs over the summer. Just how do they name these viruses? Here’s an explanation. There are 17 “H”s (#1-7 and #9 are all found in humans; the rest are found in birds, swine or other animals). There are 9 “N”s (#1 and 2 found in humans, the rest in various animals species). In 1918, H1N1 (aka Spanish Flu) killed up to 50 million people worldwide (many of them young, healthy people), making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

Officials say this year’s vaccine is a good match. Each year in the United States there are 15M – 60M cases of seasonal flu. There are 54,000 – 430,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 – 49,000 deaths, depending on the size and severity of the outbreak.