I have apparently come down with the Flu; and I'm a mess! Never in my life have I felt the kind of "sick" that I feel now. Fever 103.4 which is not the highest I've ever had in my life but it is not good for a guy my age (55) to have a fever that high. Coughing . . . . so bad that I wondered if my lungs were going to rip out of my chest! Muscle pains . . . everywhere. Joint pains, everywhere. Diarrhea.
In the middle of the night I decided the fever was too much for me. Despite the thermostat in the house being set to 72, and despite me wearing boxer shorts, full length sweat pants, two pairs of socks, a t-shirt and a heavy wool sweater, and despite being under a sheet, a blanket, a folded-over bedspread (folded in half with both halves covering me, and another blanket, I couldn't stop shivering. I was really burning up, so I took four Motrin and went back to sleep. At some point overnight, I guess the Motrin caused the fever to break because I woke up to totally saturated wet sheets and blankets. I mean TOTALLY saturated, as if someone dumped a bucket of water on my side of the bed. My wife woke up this morning and asked "what the hell happened to the covers, they're soaked?" Sorry Honey, didn't do it on purpose.
So today I start researching this season's Flu and I find that this year's outbreak has already killed 27 people in California, just killed a healthy 33 year old soccer player in Ireland and is spreading so fast in so many places that hospitals are actually running out of certain medicines!
As many as 36 states across the U.S. reported widespread influenza activity in December, but epidemiologists say it is too soon to say how bad the flu season will be this year.
The early start of the outbreaks, which usually see a peak in February, is attributed to the low efficacy of the vaccine and possibly the cold temperatures gripping much of the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the strain H3N2 is responsible for the majority of the deadliest cases reported this season.
"It's just one of those years where the CDC is seeing that this strain of flu is only somewhat covered by the vaccine that was given this year," said Jennifer Radtke, manager for infection prevention at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, as quoted by USA Today.
"They're seeing that it's anywhere from 10 percent to 33 percent effective, so any time there’s a mismatch between the vaccine and the circulating strain of the flu, you’re going to see more cases."
In the last week of 2017, 21 states experienced high influenza activity and another five qualified in the moderate range.
So far, more than 30 people have been reported dead from the flu this season, USA Today reported. At least 11 people younger than 65 have died in California, while North Carolina has reported 12 deaths and South Carolina seven.
According to CDC data, the flu virus has caused between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses in the U.S. each year since 2010. Those cases resulted in between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths each year.
So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.
On January 5, Health officials said that 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October, compared with three at the same time last year. Nationwide and in California, flu activity spiked sharply in late December and continues to grow.
The emergency room at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica typically treats about 140 patients a day, but at least one day this week had more than 200 patients — mostly because of the flu, said the ER’s medical director, Dr. Wally Ghurabi.
“The Northridge earthquake was the last time we saw over 200 patients,” Ghurabi said.
Experts say it’s possible that this year’s flu season is outpacing the last simply because it’s peaking earlier.
Many California doctors, however, contend that the recent surge has been unusually severe.
“Rates of influenza are even exceeding last year, and last year was one of the worst flu seasons in the last decade,” said Dr. Randy Bergen, clinical lead of the flu vaccine program for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.
State health officials said Friday that there was no region of the state where people were being spared from the flu.
In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, ambulance services have been severely strained because of the number of flu calls coming in, local health officials said.
Plus, emergency rooms are so crowded that ambulances arriving at hospitals can’t immediately unload their patients, so they’re unable to leave for incoming 911 calls, said Jose Arballo Jr., spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Public Health.
“The ambulances have to wait … and if they’re waiting there, they can’t be out on calls,” Arballo said.
Most people in California and nationwide are catching a strain of influenza known as H3N2, which the flu vaccine typically doesn’t work as well against. National health officials say the vaccine might only be about 32% effective this year, which could be contributing to the high number of people falling ill.
H3N2 is also a particularly dangerous strain of the flu, experts say.
“It tends to cause more deaths and more hospitalizations than the other strains,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, L.A. County’s interim health officer.
Today, January 9, there is an outpouring of grief across Tyrone, Ireland following the sudden death of popular GAA player and father-of-two Christopher `Crico' Colhoun.
The 33-year-old died just 24 hours after being admitted to hospital with flu, leaving his family "broken and shocked."
Mr Colhoun, who was a member of Tyrone's 2007 McKenna Cup panel, is originally from Pomeroy, but now living in Clonoe with is wife Lisa and their two children Grace and Beth - the latter born in the summer.
The gifted teacher, who had only recently become vice-principal at Donaghmore Primary School, was a "fit and healthy non-smoker" who was also proficient in the martial art jujitsu.
Mr Colhoun last year won an Ulster Intermediate title with his club the Pomeroy Plunketts.
It is understood that he had been battling flu for a few weeks before becoming seriously ill.
Medics in the intensive care unit at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital battled to save the life of the senior GAA player, but his condition declined rapidly in the early hours of Monday and he died shortly before 2am.
This year's Flu is transmissible by droplets released when an infected person coughs. If you are coughed-upon, or walk thru an area where an infected person has coughed, you can become infected.
If you touch a surface that was coughed upon, or pick up a package in a store or supermarket that has been touched or coughed upon by an infected person, you can become infected.
I believe this is how I became infected. I came down with this a few days after having gone food shopping in a local supermarket.
The best way to avoid infection is to wash your hands obsessively so that you don't become infected after having touched a contaminated surface (door knob, door handle, shopping cart, or packages [mail, UPS, etc.]) and avoid persons known to be infected (coughing).
Once you get it, buckle-up because you're about to go for a ride that is VERY unpleasant. Believe me, I know. I have it and this sucks.
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER & FACEBOOKFollow @realhalturner
FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK