On The Quick
Flu Epidemic Rages On
Hospitalizations and pediatric deaths continue to increase
This flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent years, with larger-than-usual numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. Here’s what the CDC wants healthcare professionals to know about the current outbreak.
The 2017–18 season has seen a high incidence of H3N2, or influenza A, which CDC officials consider one of the nastier varieties. Influenza A tends to be more serious and more resistant to vaccination than other strains. According to Dan Jernigan, M.D., MPH, director of the CDC Influenza Division, the rate of flu-related hospitalizations in California during recent has been about four times as high as in the 2014–15 season.
Although it’s still too soon to estimate how many people will be affected in all, the current flu season has already caused more than 53 pediatric deaths. Although most California nurses have already been vaccinated, the CDC says anyone who has not yet received the influenza vaccine should do so as soon as possible. Patients can check vaccinefinder.org to find providers who still have supplies of the vaccine.
Patients who are at high risk for influenza complications should receive antiviral treatment (neuraminidase inhibitor) if they show signs of the flu. This includes all hospitalized patients, nursing home residents, children under 2, adults over 65, immune-suppressed individuals, pregnant or postpartum mothers and patients with certain severe or chronic conditions.
Although there are lab tests that can usually determine if a patient has the flu, antiviral treatment is most effective when administered within 48 hours of symptom onset. Therefore, the CDC recommends that high-risk patients begin antiviral therapy as soon as possible rather than waiting for test results.
For more information, go to emergency.cdc.gov/han and look up Health Alert Network brief on seasonal influenza
This article is from workingnurse.com.