Did the Flu Get to Your Family Over the Holidays?

January 3, 2019

sepsis, flu, vaccinated, vaccination

Now that the holidays are over, many people are returning to work or school with tales of being down for the count with the flu instead of spending quality time with family member or friends. In the weekly report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11 states plus Guam reported heavy influenza activity during the week before the holiday season:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina

The remaining states (with the exception of Maryland and Tennessee, which didn’t provide information) also reported having influenza, but more limited. Numbers for the actual holiday week aren’t available yet.

Luckily, this year’s flu season doesn’t appear to be as severe as last year’s. According to the CDC, over 80,000 people in the U.S. died of flu-related complications during the 2017/2018 flu season; 185 were children. This year as we head to the season’s peak, 11 children have died after contracting the flu.

Influenza is a viral infection and when someone dies from an infection, they die from sepsis. And it’s important to understand that while influenza and sepsis hit vulnerable populations (the very old, very young, and those with weak immune systems), influenza also can kill the seemingly healthy. There are over 30 Faces of Sepsis stories related to the flu, many of whom had no risk factor for becoming so ill.

The most common complication from influenza is pneumonia, but the flu can also cause other illnesses, like bronchitis, heart problems, ear infections, and asthma flare-ups.

It’s not too late for the flu vaccine. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective, but flu season peaks between December and February, and can run as late as May. Getting the vaccine now would protect you to the end of flu season.

To learn more about influenza, how to recognize it, prevent it, and its relationship with sepsis, go to Sepsis and Influenza, part of the Sepsis Alliance Sepsis and… library.