New Flu Strains Expected: Experts Urge You To Get Your Flu Shots

By Amir Khan on September 28, 2012 10:30 AM EDT

Injection
The flu season is expected soon, and experts are telling everyone to go get their flu shot. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The flu season is expected soon, and experts are telling everyone to go get their flu shot.

Last year's flu season was very mild, experts said, but they warn that people should say vigilant against the potentially deadly infection. The virus will likely bounce back to its usual ferocity this year, they said, and people need to be protected against it.

"People cannot become complacent this year," Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told Fox News.

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Researchers said last year's flu shot won't help you either -- they are expecting two entirely new strains this year. There are two types of influenza strains, type A and type B.

Influenza A strains mutate quickly and are responsible for causing most flu outbreaks. Influenza A strains cause swine and bird flu, a strain blamed for the 1918 flu epidemic that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. Influenza B mutates more slowly than influenza A and often causes flu in children, according to the FDA. One strain of influenza C exists, but remains very rare.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and fatigue.  

While experts cannot anticipate how bad a flu season might be, they warned that infections from the strain known as H3N2 tends to be worse than others. This year, the H3N2 strain is included in the vaccine because it is circulating around the globe.

Flu infection rates fluctuate annually, but between 3,000 and 49,000 people died annually from the flu between 1976 and 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. health authorities recommend getting the flu vaccine annually, and say it is the most important step in protecting against the virus.

CDC officials recommend those with the flu stay home and rest, drink water and other fluids to stay hydrated and treat fever and coughs with over-the-counter medicines.

Deaths, hospital days and outpatient visits from the flu cost the United Stated $10 billion annually, according to a 2007 study published in The Lancet. Flu-related costs could be reduced drastically if more people got the flu vaccine, according to the study.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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