The dreaded flu is upon us! When cold and dry weather arrives in North America, this nasty viral respiratory disease makes many people miserable with headaches, fever, cough, muscle pains, and runny noses.
So far this season, over 80% of reported illnesses have involved the virulent H3N2 strain of influenza A. This viral strain is the most serious because it is difficult to prevent and can cause deadly health complications among vulnerable groups like the elderly and children.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control informed the public that the H3N2 virus is especially difficult to combat with vaccination because the virus mutates quickly, thereby evading immune memory protection bestowed by the flu shot.
Generally, the flu vaccine for H3N2 only reduces a person’s risk of serious illness by about one-third, compared to approximately 70% effectiveness when the dominant viral strains are the milder influenza type B or H1N1.
There are other effective preventive measures that we can take in addition to vaccinations, but interestingly, these receive relatively little publicity: