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2012-2013 Human Influenza Epidemic

The 2012-2013 Human Influenza - called a pandemic by some - is an epidemic. The predominant circulating strain of flu is H3N2 which is known for causing severe influenza.

The 2012-2013 Human Influenza is being reported by some as a pandemic; it is not a pandemic, but an epidemic in many states.  An epidemic occurs when the incidence rate (i.e. new cases in a given human population, during a given period) of a certain disease substantially exceeds what is "expected," based on recent experience. A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that spreads through human populations across a large region, like a continent.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released this statement late last week explaining why they believe the influenza is so severe this year:

“One factor that may indicate increased severity this season is that the predominant circulating type of influenza virus is influenza A (H3N2) viruses, which account for about 76 percent of the viruses reported. Bresee explains “typically ‘H3N2 seasons’ have been more severe, with higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, but we will have to see how the season plays out.”

So far this season, most (91%) of the influenza viruses that have been analyzed at CDC are like the viruses included in the 2012-2013 influenza vaccine. The match between the vaccine virus and circulating viruses is one factor that impacts how well the vaccine works. But Bresee cautions that other factors are involved.

“While influenza vaccination offers the best protection we have against influenza, it’s still possible that some people may become ill despite being vaccinated,” says Bresee. “Health care providers and the public should remember that influenza antiviral medications are a second line of defense against influenza.” (For more information about why people may become sick with influenza after vaccination, see 2012-2013 season Questions and Answers.)”

The CDC recommends three steps to prevent the flu and they are, vaccination, take everyday preventive actions, and if prescribed by your doctor take flu antivirals. For more detailed information see CDC link on these three steps.

Last Updated:1/10/2013 9:47 AM
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