It’s back! Get ready for the flu


Yes, it’s that time of year again. Last year, I gave you weekly flu updates from the CDC and from my position on the front line.

So far, it’s still quiet. I haven’t personally seen any cases yet, but I’m sure to soon enough.

It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Wash your hands frequently.

Remember what the flu is and is not. Influenza is characterized by the sudden onset of high fevers (usually greater than 102), muscle pain, and sometimes runny nose and cough. If you can get to your doctor within the first 48 hours, there are medications that may help you get better a little bit faster. Best, though is prevention.


  1. Although it looks like a lot of the H1N1 this year will be resistant to Tamiflu. So far H3N2 hasn’t show resistance. Yet.

  2. Just great. No amantidine, no tamiflu. I’m not so sure how much help it is with healthy young folks anyway.
    I’m just hoping we don’t have a repeat of last year.

  3. All of the H3N2 isolates tested showed sensitivity to Amantadines. My modest Amantadine stash is nearing its code date, but as my chances of surviving a bout with influenza are probably less than fifty percent, and as I have a supply of antivirals of both types on hand, if I develop symptoms I can confidently infer are due to onset of influenza, my plan is to immediately begin taking BOTH. Anybody want to talk me out of it?

    Also, my pulmonologist wants me to get a second flu shot around February. I assume that his concern is waning immunity before season’s end. (I’m on corticosteroid therapy, but no prednisone for a couple of years). I’ve got no problem with the second jab; I mean, what the hell. But I’m only 53, and I wonder if most docs would really see me as a candidate for significant immunosenescence.

  4. Irredenta

    Another cool source for flu tracking is Google Flu Trends… I can’t evaluate their accuracy claims, but the interface and concept are cool: they mine their search records to find correlations between flu incidence and people searching the web for information about the flu, then extrapolate from current searches.

    And they let you download their raw data, which could be cool.

  5. Adam Cuerden

    Any chance of a slightly more worldwide view? I live in Britain.

  6. Adam, you can get a weekly report on European Influenza Surveillance here:

  7. I’ve just learned that antivaccinationists J.B. Handley and Jenny McCarthy are supposed to be on Larry King tomorrow (12/20). I’m hoping the skeptical community can find a way to get their voice heard via phones or something, because of course Larry wouldn’t conceive of putting on a skeptic to debate these easy targets.

  8. My two-antiviral combo now has official sanction from the CDC. Interim recommendations announced yesterday put amantadines (specifically, rimantadine) back on the table.

  9. Historical Facts About Influenza:

    The last influenza pandemic occurred nearly 100 years ago, and resulted in about 50 million deaths worldwide. Those who survived have allowed others to obtain antibodies from them to develop other antibodies for future viral outbreaks that may occur. This last influenza pandemic also allowed others to obtain this virus from those who died as a result to facilitate effective treatments and vaccines for viral outbreaks that may happen in the future as well.
    With influenza, it is understood that the disease influenza is a disease caused by a RNA virus that can infect both mammals and birds. In fact, this particular virus can mutate to where it can be shared between the two life forms and multiply within each one of them. Unlike coryza, influenza expresses symptoms more severely, and usually lasts two weeks until one recovers who has the flu. Influenza, however, poses a danger to some with compromised immune systems, such as the chronically ill. In cases such as this, influenza can in fact progress to deadly pneumonia. Symptoms of influenza usually start to express themselves symptomatically 36 hours after being infected with the virus. Over 10 percent of the population are infected with this virus every year- resulting in about 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 40,000 deaths.

    The flu vaccination contains three viral strains of suspected viruses for flu outbreaks during a particular winter season, as determined by the World Health Organization, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, and other organizations. Unfortunately, the influenza vaccine administered last flu season was largely ineffective due to unsuspected strains of the virus infecting others, although about 140 million doses of this vaccine were administered. After giving the vaccination dose to one, it takes about 10 days for that person to build up an immunity for the disease of influenza.
    The influenza season peaks between the months of January and March. The vaccine for this influenza season is manufactured by 6 different companies. Yet the strains chosen are speculated influenza viruses, as this does not eliminate the chance of a new and dominant influenza viral strain that possibly could cause a pandemic. It takes manufacturers about 6 months to make and formulate the influenza vaccination. There is a vaccine for this illness that is produced every year according to which type of virus may be prevalent during a particular flu season. The vaccination is recommended to be administered to those who are at high risk, such as the chronically ill. Also, it is recommended that those under 18 years of age get the vaccine, as well as those people over the age of 50. Furthermore, those people who regularly take aspirin should receive the vaccine, as the influenza disease can become a catalyst for Reye’s Syndrome. Pregnant women should receive the vaccine as well- as there are many other vaccines available to fortunately prevent other diseases, perhaps.

    Dan Abshear

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