Outmaneuvering Influenza

Flu season is gearing up in the northern hemisphere, and this year's strains appear more virulent than usual.  In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control declared an epidemic on January 11; the CDC estimates that between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from influenza or its complications every year.  By comparison, the infamous flu of 1918 may have killed 500,000 Americans.  Although the very young, elderly, and diseased bear the highest risk of death, healthy adults still bear the responsibility of minimizing overall transmission of the virus.  In other words, everyone should get vaccinated.  On ERV, Abbie Smith writes that the influenza virus is highly mutable, and we must devise a fresh vaccine every year in anticipation of its new forms.  This year's vaccine has an efficacy of 62%, better than average.  Meanwhile, on We Beasties, Kevin Bonham explains what happens when you are infected by more than one pathogen at a time.

More like this

It looks like this year's going to be a bad flu season. Hard as it is for me to believe, it was only five weeks ago when I discussed an announcement by the CDC that this year's flu vaccine would likely be less effective because it isn't a good match for the influenza strains in circulation this…
Student guest post by Sean McCaul Image Source:  http://www.cejournal.net/?p=1934 The next time somebody in your office or household has the flu, you might want to consider keeping your distance.  A new study published this month in Nature Communications suggests that about half of the…
The CDC has declared this week to be National Influenza Vaccination Week, and is working to raise awareness about the seriousness of influenza and the importance of vaccination. The agency reminds us that each year in the U.S., 5-20 %of the population gets the flu, and approximately 36,000 people…
If there's one thing about having a demanding day job, it's that the cranks usually have the advantage. They can almost always hit first when a news story comes out that they can spin to attack their detested science. On the other hand, it usually ensures that by the time I get home, have dinner…