Infectious disease physicians warned Americans to prepare for the worst case scenario this winter –people will be exposed to a surge of multiple dangerous viruses at the same time – SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) and strains of the influenza virus.
“We have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Dr. Leonard Mermel, medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island hospital, told reporters at a Sept. 10 briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “If there was ever a year to get the flu vaccine … and … you could reduce the risk of having these two viruses infect you at the same time or your loved one … this is the year.” Continue reading
As we start moving into fall and winter, Americans are certain to be facing a continuation of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 and the possibility of a widespread outbreak of the flu – a potential crisis that has a new name: “twindemic,” according to the Poynter Institute.
Even a mild flu season could overwhelm already-stressed hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. On average, 39 million to 56 million Americans are infected by the flu annually, and about half a million of them become so sick they require hospitalization, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading
While there is rightfully much concern about the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) becoming a pandemic (see Bara Vaida’s excellent tip sheet on covering the virus), let’s not forget we’re in the middle of flu season, another disease that is potentially fatal for older adults. While COVID-19 is deadlier, flu is much more prevalent.
Flu activity is high in the U.S. and expected to continue for weeks, according to CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending Feb. 15, 2020. You can see a breakout by age groups for Influenza A and B strains here. CDC estimates at least 29 million flu illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from flu so far this season. Continue reading
Do you wrestle with ways to illustrate numbers when writing about vaccines?
Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, a family physician in Spokane, Wash., recently offered some ways to do this effectively in a blog post called Vaccine Data: Do the Math.
LaSalle skillfully highlights two examples of how numbers can be used. In one example, related to flu figures, she suggests how real-life context can make the risks of the flu more obvious. In another example, related to measles data, she underscores how numbers can be used to mislead. Continue reading
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases launched their annual influenza vaccine campaign on Sept. 26 as reports are emerging that Americans may be facing a severe season this winter.
Flu season in the U.S. officially begins Oct. 1 and emergency room doctors have anecdotally reported that they are starting to see more people arriving in hospitals with the flu and two people in California, including a 4-year-old child have already died from the flu. Continue reading
If you are covering infectious diseases and looking for ways to prioritize your story planning, consider scrolling through the list of podcasts hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).
NACCHO represents public health officials throughout the country and its bi-monthly podcasts, hosted by Ian Goldstein, the organization’s government affairs specialist, touch on some of the most pressing infectious disease problems that keep top public health officials up at night. The concerns range from stemming the increase in sexually transmitted diseases to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance to a rise in Hepatitis A outbreaks. Continue reading