Tag Archives: Influenza

Flu demands respect


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY SCOTT BREIDBART, M.D.

In the universe of infectious diseases, influenza, or flu, doesn’t usually gather interest. Ebola kills almost all infected people, isn’t in the United States, and had a best seller written about it. Tuberculosis, or consumption, is worldwide, continuously threatens to become immune to all treatments, and has killed many famous people, from artists to politicians. Polio kills and paralyzes, launched the March of Dimes, and its vaccine – along with that of smallpox – is one of the great triumphs of medicine.

But flu? Flu doesn’t seem to command the same level of fear and loathing. It’s common – everyone gets it at one time or another. People usually feel miserable for a week, and unless they are old, young, immune suppressed, or very unlucky, recover with nothing worse than the ire of the co-workers they spread it to.

The flu season starts in the fall and lasts into the spring, sort of like the hockey season, and like hockey, some seasons start later and there are good years and bad years. The experts cannot predict whether the season will start early, last a long time, or kill more people than usual.

So, while it may not win a Golden Globe for Worst Infectious Disease, you still DO NOT want to get it. The flu will make you feel rotten. If you are old, young, or have a poor immune system, it can kill you. If you spread it to a friend, neighbor or colleague who is fighting cancer, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or who had a transplant, it can pose a highly serious threat to their health, and they may de-friend you on Facebook.

So how can you avoid the flu?

Get a flu vaccine. Stay away from sick people or people who are complaining that they just feel achy and feverish. Get a flu vaccine. Don’t touch them, don’t shake their hands, and don’t let them cough on you. Get a flu vaccine. Wash your hands. Get a flu vaccine. And, of course, always check with your doctor if you get it (even after taking all these precautions).

This year’s flu vaccine is about 60 percent effective. That is very good. Statins don’t reduce the death from heart disease by 60 percent. Even seat belts don’t reduce crash related injuries by 60 percent.

Japan mandated flu vaccine for school children from 1962 to 1987 and 40,000 deaths a year were prevented! After the vaccination of school children was stopped, deaths from flu in Japan rose.

The flu vaccine is recommended for just about everyone over the age of six months. Get a flu vaccine. And plead (if you must) with your neighbors and friends to get a flu vaccine if they haven’t already gotten one. That’s what I’m doing.

Dr. Breidbart is Chief Medical Offi cer for Empire BlueCross BlueShield, New York’s largest health insurer, insuring nearly 6 million New Yorkers

Flu outbreak felt in Queens as Cuomo declares public health emergency


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

CDC/Photo by Jim Gathany

Two days after Christmas, Diane K. woke up with a bought of the flu. The 66-year-old Bayside resident, who preferred her last name not be used, fought off the viral infection’s high fever and aches over the next few days with Tamiflu and rest. But when it was announced that this season’s flu had reached epidemic proportions, Diane decided she didn’t want to take another chance.

“I’m usually very healthy,” she said. “I don’t get sick, but with the epidemic — I’m the only person I know who hasn’t gotten the flu shot yet.”

Diane called several local pharmacies, many of which had run out of the vaccine in the wake of the epidemic, before running to the Rite Aid on Bell Boulevard for the high-dose version of the shot.

In response to the early and rapid spread of this year’s flu season, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency for all of New York State. The governor also issued an executive order which permits pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to patients between the ages of six months and 18 years of age, suspending for the next 30 days the State Education Law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to those older than 18.

So far this season, 19,128 cases of the flu have been reported in New York, over four times the number of cases reported last year. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) stated that as of January 5, 2,884 patients were hospitalized with the flu.

Two children in New York State and 18 children across the United States have died as a result of this year’s seasonal flu.

On January 10, Governor  Cuomo gets a flu shot to encourage all New Yorkers to guard against a bad influenza season. (Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo’s flickr)

“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City,” Cuomo said. “Therefore, I have directed my administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers — children and adults alike — have access to critically needed flu vaccines.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested this year’s known influenza viruses against the three viruses included in the 2012-2013 vaccine. To date, all of the influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses that have been tested match the vaccine and approximately 69 percent of the known influenza B viruses match the vaccine.

According to the CDC, the flu has reached epidemic status, causing 7.3 percent of deaths last week. The CDC’s epidemic threshold is marked at 7.2 percent.

Every region of the United States — excluding the Southwest and California — registered a spike in the number of cases of the flu over the past week.

The CDC said that flu-associated deaths each season range from 3,000 people to about 49,000 people. Those at increased risk for serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

The CDC cautions those hoping to obtain the flu vaccine that the coveted shot may be difficult to find. Pharmacies have reported an increase in the number of people looking to get vaccinated, and contacting more than one provider may be a necessary part of the search.

A pharmacy staff member at the CVS on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria said they ran out of the flu shot several days ago and had just been restocked today.

“We have them in stock now but now a lot people are coming in to get them,” said the pharmacy staff member, who estimated they would be out of the vaccine again by the end of the day.

 

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WATCH: NY Department of Health laboratory monitors the flu virus


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Screenshot NYSDOH YouTube channel

This weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency for all of New York state, which allows pharmacists to give flu vaccinations to patients between six months and 18 years of age.

There are already 19,128 cases of flu reported in the state this season, more than the 4,404 positive laboratory tests that were reported during last year’s influenza season.

According to the New York State Department of Health (DOH), as of January 5, there have been reports of 2,884 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza and two children have died of the flu in the state. In 2011 there were only 1,169 total hospitalizations.

Here’s a look into the laboratory at the New York State Department of Health, where efforts are underway to reduce and monitor the effects of this season’s flu.

Flu has reached epidemic proportions


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's flickr

The early and rapid spread of this year’s flu season has had deadly consequences.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu has reached epidemic status, causing 7.3 percent of deaths last week. The CDC’s epidemic threshold is marked at 7.2 percent.

Every region of the United States — excluding the Southwest and California — registered a spike in the number of cases of the flu over the past week.

Boston, the city hit hardest by the disease, has seen 700 confirmed cases of flu and four flu-related deaths so far this season. Last year, Boston had only 70 confirmed cases.

The CDC said that flu-associated deaths each season range from 3,000 people to about 49,000 people. Those at increased risk for serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Symptoms of the respiratory viral infection include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.

The CDC cautions those hoping to obtain the flu vaccine that the coveted shot may be difficult to find. Pharmacies have reported an increase in the number of people looking to get vaccinated, and contacting more than one provider may be a necessary part of the search.

A pharmacy staff member at the CVS on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria said they ran out of the flu shot several days ago and had just been restocked today.

“We have them in stock now but now a lot people are coming in to get them,” said the pharmacy staff member, who estimated they would be out of the vaccine again by the end of the day.

Moving Free® with Mirabai


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SICK IN BED_PRINT_8929W

For a week now I have been nursing the flu. I’ve been mostly in bed and it’s very frustrating. I can feel the fitness juice draining out of me. Several times I’ve thought of getting out of bed and putting on my sneakers, but each time, my body, lungs and head have said, “Whoa maybe this is a bad idea.”

So, resting on an elevated pillow with my feet up, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there are times when being physically active can do more harm than good.

Now that I have nothing else to do I’m making a list of when not to exercise:

 

When You Are Sick

If you’ve got a cold and it’s not severe you CAN exercise without making yourself sicker. Your body will probably tell you to back off the intensity and you should listen. So just do a maintenance workout.

The flu, however, is not to be messed with. Influenza kills several thousand people a year. Your body is under siege from a virus, and you need to win that battle. Rest. Don’t exercise.

 

With A Fever

The flu is often accompanied by a fever, because your immune system is fighting off infection. Any time you have a fever you need to be resting to give your body a fighting chance. No exercise.

 

When You’re Tired

How tired? It you’ve got the fatigue and brain-block that comes from a long day at the office, some moderate exercise after work may help you relax and recharge.

But if your body is telling you to go home and go to bed, that’s what you need to do.

 

When A Chronic Condition Flairs Up

Most people with chronic conditions or injuries can exercise with doctor’s permission between flare-ups. But many make the mistake of trying to exercise when their condition is acute. When your condition flares up, wait it out. Don’t exercise. It only takes a moment to cause permanent damage. If your flare-up persists, go see your doctor.

 

When You’re Pregnant

Most pregnant women can exercise, but ability to exercise varies greatly from person to person. Make sure you talk to your doctor about any exercise you’re planning to do.

 

When You Have Pain

Patient: “Doctor it hurts when I do this.”

Doctor: “Don’t do that!”

It really IS that simple. Pushing through the pain is nonsense even for most professional athletes. If you’ve got pain, don’t exercise. See your doctor.

 

This list is a work in progress, and since I’m lying here, I’m sure I can think up some more stuff. How about you? If you’ve got some good reasons not to exercise, send them to me at exercise@movingfree.com.

 

 

Mirabai Holland M.F.A. legendary fitness pioneer is one of the leading authorities in the Health & Fitness industry, and a public health activist who specializes in preventive and rehabilitative exercise for people. Her Moving Free® approach to exercise is designed to provide a movement experience so pleasant it doesn’t feel like work. www.easyexercisevideos.com