Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What You Don't Know About the Flu Can Kill You

Flu shots are helpful, but not always the sure cure for avoiding the flu. Yes, I do urge you to get a flu shot...but, even more than that, I urge you to search the internet for information about the flu. Because...even in this day and age, people will die of the flu...as did our beautiful Kimberly.

Flu Awareness

I am not a medical professional of any sort. But, I am a broken-hearted mother whose beautiful 28 year old daughter died of the flu. And, for that reason, I want to raise awareness of the potential deadly danger the flu virus is capable of causing. Yes, in this day and age...people will die of the flu!

Kimberly had absolutely no health problems. She was not diabetic. She was not over weight, nor was she under weight. She did not have any autoimmune diseases. Her heart was healthy, her lungs were healthy, kidneys and bladder were all healthy, no cancer, no thyroid problems, no medical issues of any sort...so stated by the Coroner who examined her body after her death. Kimberly didn’t even have trouble with ear infections, as a child. But, my beautiful 28 years 3 months 10 days old daughter died on December 17, 2014 and the official Coroner’s report listed the cause as Influenza B Victoria, a particular strain of the flu virus.

What you don’t know about the flu can kill you. (Much of the information contained in this post was gathered from the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, website. You are welcome to do your own research.)

Did you know that there are 3 types of flu? Influenza, A, B and C, and, within those three types there are sub-groups of the flu virus. For example, the distinction of the influenza type A is that this flu virus is transmitted between animals and humans. The transmission of this type A flu virus has resulted in the swine flu and the bird flu, to name the most popular ones. Influenza B is only transmitted between humans. Influenza C is a milder form of the flu virus.

This would explain why there were 7 types of flu vaccines on the market during the 2013-2014 season. And yet, when you get a flu shot, you seldom know what type of flu virus it is protecting you from...unless you ask. Did you know that you are also able to receive a flu shot that will cover 3 and 4 different types of the flu viruses?

Flu viruses are constantly changing. Each flu season, different flu viruses can spread, and they can affect people differently based on differences in the immune system. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu.

Flu seasons are unpredictable. The severity of influenza seasons can differ substantially from year to year. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of yearly flu associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people during the most severe season.

Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

There are several flu vaccine options for the 2015-2016 flu season.

Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called "trivalent" vaccines) are available. In addition, flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called "quadrivalent" vaccines) also are available.
Trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2) and an influenza B virus. The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:
Standard-dose trivalent shots that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. There are several different flu shots of this type available, and they are approved for people of different ages. Some are approved for use in people as young as 6 months of age. Most flu shots are given with a needle. One standard dose trivalent shot also can be given with a jet injector, for persons aged 18 through 64 years.
A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.
A trivalent shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 18 and older.
A recombinant trivalent shot that is egg-free, approved for people 18 years and older.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:

A quadrivalent flu shot that is manufactured using virus grown in eggs. There are several different flu shots of this type available, and they are approved for people of different ages. Some are approved for use in people as young as 6 months of age.
An intradermal quadrivalent shot, which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot. It is approved for people 18 through 64 years of age.
A quadrivalent nasal spray vaccine, approved for people 2 through 49 years of age.

What should I do if I get sick with the flu?

Antiviral drugs are prescription drugs that can be used to treat flu illness. People at high risk of serious flu complications (such as children younger than 2 years, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions) and people who are very sick with flu (such as those hospitalized because of flu) should get antiviral drugs. Some other people can be treated with antivirals at their health care professional’s discretion. Treating high risk people or people who are very sick with flu with antiviral drugs is very important. Studies show that prompt treatment with antiviral drugs can prevent serious flu complications. Prompt treatment can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness.

Antiviral drugs are effective across all age-and risk groups. Studies show that antiviral drugs are under-prescribed for people who are at high risk of complications who get flu. This season (2015-2016), three FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs are recommended for use in the United States: oseltamivir, zanamivir and peramivir
Kimberly ~ 2007

Will this season's vaccine be a good match for circulating viruses?
It's not possible to predict with certainty if the vaccine will be a good match for circulating viruses. The vaccine is made to protect against the flu viruses that research indicates will likely be most common during the season. However, experts must pick which viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time. And flu viruses change constantly (called drift) – they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. Because of these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between circulating viruses and the viruses in the vaccine. For this reason it is still possible to get the flu even after you have had a flu shot, because this also depends on how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.

Over the course of the flu season, CDC studies samples of circulating flu viruses to evaluate how close a match there is between viruses used to make the vaccine and circulating viruses.

Can I get vaccinated and still get the flu?

Yes. It’s possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:
•You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection develop in the body.)
•You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
•Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus the flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, the flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination.

Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.

If the flu vaccine is not matched to the flu viruses that are causing illness, you could still become deathly ill with the flu. It is so important to know this!

Is there treatment for the flu?
Yes. If you get sick, there are drugs that can treat flu illness. They are called antiviral drugs and they can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They also can prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. For more information about antiviral drugs, visit Treatment (Antiviral Drugs).
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person is very sick from the flu.

Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have no symptoms at all or only respiratory symptoms without a fever.

*Its important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Our Kimberly went to a local clinic on December 13, 2014 and presented with flu like symptoms. She was told that it looked like she was on the down-side of the flu and a prescription for Ibuprofen was given to her, which she had filled.  Four days later, we received the horrific news that our Kimberly Renee had died. If we can save a life with this post...Lord, may we!

Posted by Jane Coley ~ Heartbroken Mom ~ 15 September 2015

(More about Kimberly:
"Growing In Grief" http://janesjournalfromkenya.blogspot.co.ke/2015/08/growing-in-grief.html
"The Most Unnatural Thing" http://janesjournalfromkenya.blogspot.co.ke/2015/06/the-most-unnatural-thing.html
"Too Young to Die" http://janesjournalfromkenya.blogspot.co.ke/2015/06/too-young-to-die.html
 "Embracing Grief"  http://janesjournalfromkenya.blogspot.co.ke/2015/05/grief-knows-grief.html
"The Proving Ground"  http://janesjournalfromkenya.blogspot.co.ke/2014/10/the-proving-ground_27.html
"What You Don't Know About the Flu can Kill You"http://janesjournalfromkenya.blogspot.co.ke/2015/09/flu-shots-are-helpful-but-not-always.html )