Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Flu (influenza, conventional, H1N1, H3N2, and bird flu [H5N1]) facts
- What is flu (influenza)?
- Flu vs. cold
- Flu vs. food poisoning
- What are the causes of the flu (influenza)?
- When does flu season begin and end?
- What are flu (influenza) symptoms in adults and in children?
- Does a child's first flu infection help to determine the patient's lifelong risk to other viruses?
- What is the incubation period for the flu?
- How long is the flu contagious, and how long does the flu last?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose the flu (influenza)?
- How does flu spread?
- What is the key to flu (influenza) prevention?
- Are there any flu shot or nasal spray vaccine side effects in adults or in children?
- How effective is the flu vaccine?
- Why should the flu (influenza) vaccine be taken every year?
- What are some flu treatments an individual can do at home (home remedies)?
- What types of doctors treat the flu?
- What medications treat the flu?
- What can people eat when they have the flu?
- When should a person go to the emergency department for the flu?
- Who should receive the flu vaccine, and who has the highest risk factors? When should someone get the flu shot?
- What is the prognosis for patients who get the flu? What are possible complications of the flu?
- Can the flu be deadly?
- What is the bird (avian) flu?
- Do antiviral agents protect people from the flu?
- Is it safe to get a flu shot that contains thimerosal?
- Where can people find additional information about the flu?
- Slideshow: Finding Relief for Your Cough
- Pictures of Natural Cold & Flu Remedies - Slideshow
- Pictures of 10 Foods to Eat When You Have the Flu - Slideshow
When should a person go to the emergency department for the flu?
The CDC urges people to seek emergency medical care for a sick child with any of these symptoms or signs:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing (shortness of breath)
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and cough
The following is the CDC's list of symptoms that should trigger emergency medical care for adults:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Having a high fever for more than three days is another danger sign, according to the WHO, so the CDC has also included this as another serious symptom.
Who should receive the flu vaccine, and who has the highest risk factors? When should someone get the flu shot?
In the United States, the flu season usually occurs from about November until April. Officials have decided each new flu season will start each year on Oct. 4. Typically, activity is very low until December, and peak activity most often occurs between January and March. Ideally, the conventional flu vaccine should be administered between September and mid-November. Flu season typically occurs between October and May. It takes about one to two weeks after vaccination for antibodies against influenza to develop and provide protection. The CDC has published a summary list of their current recommendations of who should get the current vaccine:
Summary of CDC influenza vaccination recommendations for 2016-2017
Routine annual influenza vaccination of all people aged ≥ 6 months without contraindications continues to be recommended. No preferential recommendation is made for one influenza vaccine product over another for people for whom more than one licensed, recommended product is otherwise appropriate. Updated information and guidance in this document includes the following:
- In light of low effectiveness against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in the United States during the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons, for the 2016-17 season, ACIP makes the interim recommendation that LAIV4 (nasal spray) should not be used. Because LAIV4 is still a licensed vaccine that might be available and that some providers might elect to use, for informational purposes, reference is made to previous recommendations for its use.
- The 2016-2017 U.S. trivalent influenza vaccines will contain an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (Victoria lineage). Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional vaccine virus strain, a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (Yamagata lineage).
- Recent new vaccine licensures are discussed:
- An MF59-adjuvanted trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (aIIV3), Fluad (Seqirus, Holly Springs, North Carolina), was licensed by FDA in November 2015 for people aged ≥ 65 years. Regulatory information is available at http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/ucm473989.htm. aIIV3 is an acceptable alternative to other vaccines licensed for people in this age group. ACIP and CDC do not express a preference for any particular vaccine product.
- A quadrivalent formulation of Flucelvax (cell culture-based inactivated influenza vaccine [ccIIV4], Seqirus, Holly Springs, North Carolina) was licensed by the FDA in May 2016 for people aged ≥ 4 years. Regulatory information is available at: http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm502844.htm. ccIIV4 is an acceptable alternative to other vaccines licensed for people in this age group. No preference is expressed for any particular vaccine product.
- Recommendations for influenza vaccination of people with egg allergy have been modified, including the following:
- Removal of the recommendation that egg-allergic recipients should be observed for 30 minutes postvaccination for signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. Providers should consider observing all patients for 15 minutes after vaccination to decrease the risk for injury should they experience syncope, per the ACIP General Recommendations on Immunization (8).
- A recommendation that people with a history of severe allergic reaction to egg (for example, any symptom other than hives) should be vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting (including but not necessarily limited to hospitals, clinics, health departments, and physician offices), under the supervision of a health-care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
For more information and details too extensive to include here, the following site is recommended: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/index.htm.
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