Americans ages 50-64 have something to worry about this flu season. Typically infants and toddlers suffer more symptoms from than adults, but this year it is those above the age of 50 that are scrambling to feel better. Some adults are getting sick, recovering and then developing a new strain of the illness- putting them back down in bed. Baby boomers have higher rates [of hospitalization] than their grandchildren right now,” CDC flu director Dan Jernigan told reporters on a call Friday.
The strain of the flu is bad this year. Why?
This year’s flu shot contained portions of antibodies if these three strains: H3N2, H1N1 (sometimes called “swine flu”) and an influenza B, so you think it would protect more than hinder. The reality is baby boomers were born before the H3N2 strain even existed, so their bodies do not have antibodies built up to to protect them from the flu epidemic continuing to spread across the country.
This is similar to what happened during the 2009 Swine Flu season. According to authorities at the CDC, this year’s flu may feel particularly ugly, but we haven’t reached “pandemic” level of flu, and death rates in the US aren’t shocking authorities at the CDC.
Michael Osterholm, who directs The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times and said this year’s flu is simply showing us “how ill prepared we are for even ‘ordinary’ flu,” because we don’t have a universal flu vaccine that would protect us from the viruses for life.
Business Insider, reported this flu season could be a warning of what could come if we are not prepared. If the H5 strain (more typical in Asian countries) makes it way to North America during a future pandemic, it could be a recipe for a deadly disaster year of illness. If our bodies have not experienced strains of flu, they have a hard time fighting them off, potentially creating pandora’s box in the world of flu.