This Flu Season Is Severe, and Far From Over
January 20, 2018
On Jan 19th, the following related Flash SMS
message was sent to AlertsUSA subscriber mobile devices:
1/19 – CDC virologic surveillance data shows flu season worsening, w rapid incr in deaths & hospitalizations. Spot shortages of antivirals nationwide. Caution urged.
What You Need To Know
On 8 occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding safety and security matters. Most pressing for this report is the increasing severity of the annual flu season in N. America. According to the latest virologic surveillance data issued by the Centers for Disease Control on Friday, more people sought care for flulike illnesses last week than any other comparable period in nearly a decade. At least ten children died from influenza-associated illnesses during that period, bringing the total number of pediatric deaths this flu season to at least 30.
According to Lynette Brammer, head of the CDC’s Domestic Influenza Surveillance team, approximately 80 percent of children who died from influenza are not vaccinated.
Hawaii is the only state that is not reporting widespread illnesses.
The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories thus far this season is influenza A(H3N2) shown in the image above, which normally results in a much more severe flu season. Additionally, vaccine effectiveness (VE) against H3N2 viruses also is typically lower than against influenza H1N1 and influenza B viruses.
A cumulative rate of 31.5 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was also reported, with the highest rate of hospitalization among adults aged 65 years and older, followed by those aged 50-64.
Compounding the challenges this year are spotty antiviral (Tamiflu, etc..) shortages nationwide, as well as an ongoing national shortage of IV fluids such as saline and nutrient solutions. These shortages exist because of damage to factories and power systems in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “the production situation in Puerto Rico remains fragile.”
FLU MAY BE SPREAD JUST BY BREATHING
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceshas revealed that the influenza virus’s capacity to aerosolize and linger in the atmosphere is significantly greater than previously thought. Analyzing 142 flu patients, the researchers found infectious virus in the air they exhaled, particularly in the first few days they showed symptoms. By contrast, sneezing appeared to play a relatively small part in spreading influenza.
The study also showed that flu sufferers who were overweight or obese were more likely to aerosolize the disease.
Flu season warning: Babies and children hit particularly hard this year
Hospitals Experiencing Shortages Of IV Bags, Tamiflu
Hospitals Overwhelmed by Flu Patients Are Treating Them in Tents
More schools close across the US amid flu outbreak
This year the flu is brutal, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize risk.
- Get vaccinated. Even though this years flu vaccine is less than optimal, a majority of infectious disease specialists will tell you that some protection is better than no protection. If you are a member of the ‘no vaccine’ crowd, roll the dice.
- Next, avoid sick people if possible.
- If sick, avoid healthy people. According to the CDC, the typical incubation period for influenza is 1—4 days (average: 2 days). Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. CDC further recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
- Wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Next, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated (faucet handles, door knobs, TV controllers, etc..)
You can also step things up a bit:
Hibiclens is a hospital-grade skin cleanser providing antiseptic activity and a persistent antimicrobial effect that lasts up to 24 hours. The product has been used in hospitals worldwide for more than 30 years for general hand washing as well as pre-surgical scrubs. Get it through through your local pharmacy or Amazon via the linked image above.
If you have sick people in your home or place of work, you may wish to consider a simple face mask to reduce your chances of contracting the virus. While there is debate in the scientific community over how well face masks guard against influenza when people use them outside of hospitals and other health care settings, your best bet is to follow their practices. To this end, Centers for Disease Control guidance very clearly recommends recommend the use of a NIOSH-certified N95 facemask or better respirator for the protection against airborne particles.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.
OTHER SMS ALERTS FROM THIS WEEK
NOT DETAILED IN THIS NEWSLETTER ISSUE
1/13 – Hawaii Civil Defense has confirmed their emergency alert regarding inbound ballistic missile was a mistake. More via email.
1/13 – N. Korea warns U.S. re ongoing military buildup, reminds that Guam and the U.S. mainland are within strike range of Hwasong missiles. More via email.
1/15 – Explosion collapses two building in Antwerp, Belgium. Numerous injuries. cause yet undetermined. AlertsUSA monitoring.
1/16 – US Embassy Philippines cautions Americans re Mayon Volcano, SE of Manila. “Hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days.” More via email.
1/16 – Bright flash and massive explosion rocks SE Michigan and Ontario region. Suspected meteor. AlertsUSA monitoring…
1/17 – Al Qaeda releases new video featuring intel gathering & risk mgmt fieldcraft, warns jihadis to stop using cellphones & internet for communications. See email.
1/19 – Active shooter, Union and Vickers area, Colorado Springs, CO. Avoid the area. Police asking resident to shelter in place. Add’l alerts as warranted.
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World News Roundup
January 20, 2018
Other Developments We Are Following
There are 3.6 MILLION DREAMers — far more than commonly known
Terrorists stalk dark web for deadlier weaponry
Mexico remittances: Transfers from US hit record high
Russian spy ship spotted off US coast a year ago returns to region
Pentagon Shadowing Russian Spy Ship
Supreme Court to take up Trump travel ban
The ISIS ‘senior commander’ who grew up on the Jersey Shore
Jim Mattis: Shutdown would have serious ramifications for US military
It Won’t Be Business as Usual in Chile
One way or another, bitcoin will be crushed by the authorities
Soldiers, military police move into 4 Rio de Janeiro slums
Judge bars transfer of U.S-Saudi citizen being detained by military
NSA surveillance programs renewed by Senate
Sweden Preps For A “Civil War”: PM Wants To Deploy Army In No-Go Zones
Swedish PM does not rule out use of army to end gang violence
Defense Cuts Leave UK Reliant on French, German Militaries
Russia marks 75 years since breaking Nazi siege of Leningrad
Russia accuses Washington of leaking diplomats’ bank details
Russia tests robotic strike vehicle in conditions close to real combat
Russia to Decommission Two Largest Nuclear Subs in the World
Russia’s S-400 Is Way More Dangerous Than You Think
Russia moves toward creation of an independent internet
Merkel and Kurz clash over migrant quota
Al-Qaeda launches recruitment drive for Daesh fighters
Israel dismisses Abbas’ threats to end security coordination
Israel reveals plans for 40-mile underground wall around Gaza
Iran nuclear deal cannot survive if U.S. pulls out: Russia’s Lavrov
Hezbollah slams US decision to keep troops in Syria
Lebanon says foiled IS holiday attacks
Be Careful What You Wish For: A ‘Persian Spring’ Would Be a Disaster
The Way Forward For the United States in Syria
Turkey shells Syria’s Afrin region, minister says operation has begun
Pence visit showcases dilemma facing Egypt, Jordan leaders
Damascus warns on Turkish planes attacking Kurds within Syrian borders.
China Ramps Up Its Navy To Challenge The U.S.
US lawmakers: ‘Bloody nose’ strike would spark massive war
The case for using military force to denuclearise North Korea –
American Illusions and Korean Realities: Preventing Conflict on the Peninsula
US Military Escalates War Efforts in the Philippines
Ahead of elections, Pakistan heads toward more political chaos
Graham: Seoul ‘undercutting’ Trump by allowing North Korea at Olympics
China flouting sanctions by docking in North Korea and loading up on fuel’
Some see U.S. already on DPRK war footing, waiting for allies to get onboard
Russia begins delivering S-400 air defence systems to China, says report
An arms race is building between China and its neighbours
The U.S. Dept. of State Travel Website is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to do a little research on the security situation well prior to departure.
Major USGOV Travel Notices
Europe Travel Alert
The Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides several resources to enhance the safety and security of the U.S. private sector abroad. Additional information can be found on OSAC.gov
Mariners and U.S. citizens considering maritime travel should also review information at the websites of the National Geospatial Agency, the Maritime Security Communications with Industry Portal, and the U.S. Coast Guardfor information related to maritime and port security globally.
Additional Sources of Travel Guidance
Canada Dept. of Foreign Affairs
Australia Dept. of Foreign Affairs
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.