Articles, Blog

Flu Epidemiology

November 10, 2019


Let’s imagine that
this is you, and you are headed home
for the holidays. So you board a
plane, and you notice while you’re on this plane
that the people around you are pretty sick. The guy next to you looks
like he has a fever. Maybe the flight
attendant is coughing. So you head on home. And although you’re excited to
see everybody in your family, you are feeling
completely run down. And so you decide
to head to bed, and hopefully you’ll
feel better tomorrow. Unfortunately, you don’t
feel better the next day. You have a very high fever. You don’t even have
the strength to get out of bed for a few days. And when you finally
start to feel better, you notice that you’re not
the only person in your house who’s sick. Your dad is sick. Your mom is sick as well,
maybe some of your siblings. You call your best friend. They are sick, and their
entire family is sick. Maybe you talk to a neighbor
and someone on your street, you learn, has died
from this illness. And news reports say that this
is not unique to your town, but it’s happening all over the
state and all over the country. Now, this is a really
scary situation. But unfortunately,
it’s not one that is out of the realm
of possibility. In 1918 and 1919, this was
a particularly bad influenza season. In fact, it was so bad that
it led to approximately 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. And this is a pretty
famous picture from that era of a
makeshift hospital. There were so many sick
people during this flu season that hospitals couldn’t provide
enough beds and resources for the patients who needed it. Even during a so-called
regular flu season, every year the influenza
virus causes a lot of damage. Flu is a top 10 killer
in the United States, and it leads to approximately
200,000 hospitalizations every year due to complications
of the influenza virus. In addition to the
200,000 hospitalizations that we have every
year in this country, approximately 20,000
to 40,000 people die every single year,
20,000 to 40,000 deaths on an annual basis. So you can see that
influenza is not something to be taken
lightly, but can lead to very serious
consequences. But luckily, there is
something that can be done. In fact, there’s something
that you can do about this. As someone who’s
learning this training, you’re learning how to vaccinate
people in your community. The modern influenza
vaccine is approximately 70% effective in preventing
influenza infection, and so this is a great way to
help prevent illness and death.

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