The Flu Flourishes During Fall

In the midst of November, the air gets thicker, night approaches quicker, and students get sicker.

According to the American weekly magazine, People, the current flu season has arrived over a month earlier than previous years. Flu-related hospitalization rates have gone up to the same extent as the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. Due to the increased indoor gatherings during cold weather, the likelihood of getting the flu is exceedingly high.

Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is spread through antigenic drift and shift, but is also caused by animals. Luckily, the flu is only seasonal because the influenza virus exists most when the air is dry and the temperatures are low. Although, the flu cannot completely disappear because the pathogen changes every year through mutation. 

Schools all over California report an escalation in student absences. About 1,000 of the 2,600 Patrick Henry High School students have called in sick after their homecoming weekend. Furthermore, most of those students test negative for COVID-19, which leaves room for the assumption of a flu outbreak instead.

Kaiya Tadokoro (10) notices the numerous empty chairs in her classes: “My history teacher said there were 8 absences in the class and my chemistry teacher said that there were 9 absences in the class. My classes were a lot quieter, even though they’re both said to be full classes.”

Rady Children’s Hospital experiences an exponential rise of kids arriving in their emergency department, testing negative for COVID-19, but positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Additionally, 250 of those children have been induced with a lower respiratory tract infection that may lead to viral pneumonia, in some instances. Medical workers claimed to have never witnessed such an epidemic of the flu until this November.

Unfortunately, the first flu-related death of a child in the 2022-2023 season has already been announced in South Carolina. Reported by The Island Packet, three additional flu-related deaths have occurred this season, also from the Midlands. Both North and South Carolina are seeing an increase of illnesses made by respiratory viruses.

For the most part, young children are generally affected by the high risk of complications made by the flu. The fever induced by the flu can reach up to 103 or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Both beginning earlier and appearing mutated, this autumn indicates a severe flu around the United States.

As the most common viruses at this time, it is difficult to identify whether someone has the flu, COVID, or RSV. All of the viruses have symptoms of coughing, sneezing, and sore throat. The only way to truly differentiate the three is through testing with swab tests that confirm diagnostics. 

Keeping everybody safe from the flu can come from simply coughing into a tissue, sanitizing hands, and wearing a mask. Most importantly, however, doctors encourage investing in yearly vaccinations, and in this case is the flu shot. Vaccines are said to provide the most protection against such a lethal disease. 

Thomas A. Russo, Professor and Chief of Infectious Diseases in Buffalo VAMC, speaks about the flu shot: “Vaccines are imperfect, but they are safe and they do significantly decrease hospitalizations and deaths.”