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Flue Won’t Believe This

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Zane Basquiat

This year’s flu season is devastating the U.S. with thousands of Americans hospitalized and hundreds dead. While the virus often kills infants and elderly, this year’s victims include a 27-year-old college graduate, a 40-year-old mother of three, a 24-year old, and a 10-year-old hockey player.

Many of them died within days of showing symptoms, and some had even received the flu shot. With a shortage of flu shots, many are panicking about the aggressive H3N2 strain, a subtype of influenza A according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is the cause of everyone getting sick and worrying about their risk of death, flu shot or not. Even unusual suspects are more susceptible to this year’s aggressive strain of flu.

While so many seemingly healthy, young people are dying from the flu, this season remains a mystery, further investigation will be needed to determine what exactly made them succumb to the flu.

Even here at LVA, several students have missed numerous days of school, and it has been spreading around the campus. According to school nurse, Mr. Taylor, you shouldn’t lay around on dirty floors around campus, theaters, or classrooms. When people cough and sneeze, guess where all those germs will eventually land! On the floor! Germs can stay viable for many hours on desks, doorknobs and just about every surface that we come in contact with.

While the flu is common and typically leaves people suffering from a fever and body aches that pass after a week, others have died within days of first falling ill. Infants and people over 65 are most commonly killed by the virus due to a weakened immune system from aging while babies under six months are unable to get vaccinated. According to the Daily Mail, this season has seen more than 50 children die from the flu.

The virus is the most inhospitable guest you can imagine. It takes over the body’s response of what it’s supposed to do, and it sets up shop for its own outcomes.

The most common H3N2 strain, according to the CDC dubbed the ‘Aussie flu’, is responsible for the devastating 2014 season and has been infecting thousands this year. According to the CDC, the H1N1 strain, otherwise known as the “swine flu,” and the B viruses also called “hepatitis B,” these are expected to emerge in the next few weeks.

Because the flu is a virus of the upper respiratory system, patients with asthma who already have swollen and sensitive airways have a higher risk of severe complications including more inflammation in the lungs and asthma attacks.

The Daily Mail reports that the symptoms patients experience, which includes fever, body aches, and fatigue, are not from the flu itself, but the body’s immune system trying to fight off the virus. Some people’s immune systems may be working harder to rid the body of the flu which can lead to cell damage in the respiratory tract. If a flu patient has a prior infection, such as strep or an ear infection, the body would be working harder. But if the body is unable to rid itself of the flu, it can lead to deadly complications such as pneumonia and sepsis.

A study published by Harvard in 2015 suggested that the body’s flu immunity is shaped by our first flu exposure. That strain of flu imprints itself on the immune system. When you’re exposed to something foreign, your body sets up a response to it. Your body can retain that memory of certain infections. Therefore if you have been exposed to the flu in the past, your body may remember how to fight it giving you a better defense against the virus. Previous studies have suggested that genes play a role in susceptibility as some people have more of a flu-fighting protein than others. According to the CDC, the IFITM3 protein prevents flu viruses from replicating in cells sending them straight to waste disposal instead.

But even if you feel you are less susceptible to getting sick, you might consider getting your flu shot before it’s too late. The shot is the best defense against the illness, it can also lessen the chance of contracting this nasty virus.

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Flue Won’t Believe This