The Worldwide Outbreak: Influenza A (H1N1), Avian Flu and Whooping Cough
Influenza in 2014
This year's influenza virus has hit California hard with 202 deaths since October. Fatalities continue to rise with 12 in Nevada, at least 15 in Oregon, and over 400 deaths in Mexico. The H1N1 virus that hit in the 2009 - 2010 flu season killing approximately 284,000 people worldwide has returned. This year, the deadly virus has attacked more young and middle aged people than the previous pandemic.
Two months to go
California's chief of the division of communicable diseases, Dr. James Watt says new reports of the virus have dropped from four weeks ago and hopes the illness has peaked. With two months of the flu season remaining, another surge of the flu may happen. People between the ages of 40 and 64 makeup two-thirds of California's flu fatalities.
Watch for the symptoms and stay home
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Mexican officials report 421 flu-related deaths between January 1 and February 7 this year. Officials blame the AH1N1 strain for the majority of deaths, but report 28 fatal infections by the AH3N2 strain as well. People between 25 and 55-years old with preexisting health conditions are at risk.
The influenza virus attacks the respiratory system and can lead to pneumonia, especially in people with already compromised immune systems. The signs of the flu include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Muscle ache
- High fever
- Difficulty breathing
- Congestion in the lungs
People with asthma, diabetes and weak immune system cannot fight the virus as well as others. Doctors recommend getting a flu shot every year for protection.
Are not symptoms of the influenza virus. These symptoms indicate a different viral infection, parasitic infestation or food poisoning.
Pertussis (whooping cough), which struck over 9,100 people in California during the 2010 epidemic, has taken one life in Southern California. Whooping cough strikes infants under six-months old who have not received the five vaccinations needed to build an immunity to the illness. Pertussis begins with a runny nose and cough. The cough worsens as the illness progresses and it sounds like a 'whoop' at the end. Frequent coughing attacks can last two months or longer. An infant with whooping cough will have coughing attacks and may turn purple from loss of oxygen. Immediate medical attention is needed if an infant has any of these symptoms.
Though California seems hardest by the flu in the United States, the virus reaches nationwide and Mexico's battle the pandemic continues. To fight against infection, try not to touch anyone with flu symptoms, wash your hands frequently, stay hydrated and as your doctor about getting a late flu shot.
The end is near
The season ends soon and the rest of the year scientists will create the vaccine to fight this destructive strain of the virus. So follow the tips to stay well. If symptoms come on, visit a doctor and follow his or her advice.
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