Is this the worst flu ever?

By on January 23, 2013
Devra Davis
Devra Davis

Devra Davis – courtesy photo


JH Weekly: This season’s influenza strain is vicious. It’s been knocking normally healthy people down for weeks. Where did this come from? Did CDC drop the ball on this one?

Dr. Devra Davis: I don’t think the CDC dropped the ball, really. It’s difficult to predict. The strains usually change every year. It’s a very slippery genetic code, so to speak.

This year’s vaccine does cover the majority of strains. For those that get it, it has been more virulent. It may be an H3N2 hybrid and it is a strain that is getting people sicker and it’s lasting for longer periods of time. Fortunately, it appears to have peaked in most areas.

Since it hangs on longer, more people are walking around sick for longer periods of time and infecting many others. You are not doing anyone any favors by trying to prove how tough you are and going into work or to some event when you are sick. Avoid going to places when you are sick. Stay home. Let your body rest. Don’t try to be a hero.

Take precautions when you are out somewhere in public. Avoid commonly shared devices that may be full of bacteria. People need to be aware that things like a coffee pot or a Xerox machine are all vectors. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water after touching anything that someone else might have touched. Use your elbow or the back of your hand to turn on water or push open a door.

Watch what you are doing with your hands. As an airborne vector, the flu doesn’t go too far. Hands become the primary vector. Most of us are not aware of how much we touch our faces and eyes.

JHW: One reason the flu seems to have spread so quickly, at least around here, is that it came very early. Not many had been vaccinated yet, or otherwise exposed, so no ‘herd immunity’ was built up.

DD: Yes. Herd immunity is when even if you don’t have immunity, people around you do and therefore protect you from getting the flu. The peak season for flu is normally February or March. This outbreak is a good three months early so as a consequence a lot of people that would have been vaccinated are not yet.

There is something called an epidemic curve, when people come together from many different places to one place like at the airport. We appeared to peak at Christmas week in Jackson Hole. That would indicate that people traveling were bringing with them whatever ailed them. The community was exposed at the highest rate then.

JHW: Some people don’t like to get vaccinated. There was the mercury-based preservative linked to autism scare and some folks still think they can get the flu from a flu shot.

DD: The theory that autism is caused by vaccine has been mostly discredited but there is some credence to the notion that giving young children multiple vaccines at the same time might not be desirable. But there is no evidence linking early immunization with autism. There’s no reason to fear vaccine because of autism. Regarding the flu shots, the injection is an inactivated flu virus. It is dead. The nasal spray, however, is a weakened flu virus. Either way, the vaccine has been shown to save lives.

There are some people that may be more susceptible to the effects of getting the shot. Don’t get the shot when you are already sick with anything. If you got your flu shot early, many doctors are suggesting a booster later.

Reader Comments
Fuck the flu shot…..mercury is a toxin, some are more sensitive to it then others. Read up on the symptoms of mercury toxicity, prior to getting the shot, monitor yourself to see if the shot causes symptoms. Mercury doesn’t leave the body, tread lightly. If there is a mercury free way, take it. I would much rather have the flu then mercury toxicity. Shame that many people have the flu shot forced on them.

“The single-dose units are made without thimerosal as a preservative because they are intended to be opened and used only once. Additionally, the live-attenuated version of the vaccine (the nasal spray vaccine), is produced in single-dose units and does not contain thimerosal.” Flu or cold or whatever, it’s running all over town.

On nasal spray vaccines “You have 100 million viruses sprayed up the nose, along with other things like MSG (monosodium glutamate) and sugar, which causes inflammation. And since the virus also contains egg [proteins], you run the risk of introducing an avian retrovirus, which can cause encephalitis in humans. “And so here you are spraying this up into your nose, just a few millimeters from the brain with MSG traveling across the blood-brain barrier, causing potential damage to neurotransmitters,” says Harper, who is based Solana Beach, Calif. Yahoo is running a piece about vaccines causing narcolepsy in people under 20. Cdc says that 40% of people who get the flu shot get the flu.

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