Californians may have noticed that nearly everyone they meet seem to be either sick with the flu or recovering from it. This year’s strain of flu has put hundreds of Californians in hospital and killed dozens more.
Experts explain that this is because this year’s flu virus is one of the nastiest the Golden State has seen in years. On Friday, a report showed that the flu killed 27 people aged 65 or younger in just three months. In 2016, only three people were killed by the flu during the same time period.
Epidemiologists at UCLA’s Medical Center in Santa Monica said they usually see 140 new patients with flu symptoms every day. Last week, the ER was crowded with 200 patients.
The Northridge earthquake was the last time we saw over 200 patients,
one doctor told LA Times.
Health authorities have not claimed that this year’s strain is worse than last year’s. In early 2017, 68 people died of the flu by February. However, officials expect this year’s virus to be deadlier because the flu season picked up earlier.
A deadlier Strain of Flu
In addition, in December, people already had the flu and they were traveling back home. This means that they brought influenza to their families as well. All authorities agree that this year’s flu strain is no walk in the park.
- The strain called H3N2 tends to cause more deaths and land more people in the hospital with complications than other strains.
- The same strain has hit Australia and the United Kingdom earlier this year causing many deaths and a surge in seasonal hospitalizations.
On top of that, this year’s vaccine is only 10% effective due to an abrupt mutation of the H3N2. Usually, flu shots for the U.S. market are manufactured based on the flu strain recorded for the Australian flu season which overlaps with the U.S. summer.
However, meanwhile, the strain can mutate and render the vaccines nearly useless, which is what happened this year.
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