Crowded emergency departments. Limited hospital beds. Thousands dying.
“What really was the most devastating part about it was that otherwise healthy people died from the flu,” says Dr. Zane Saul.
These are sobering facts of what happened last flu season.
Dr. Saul is Chief of Infectious Disease at Bridgeport Hospital.
He said this year could a moderate one — based on what Australia experienced — which the U.S. tends to mirror.
But, Dr. Saul warned, don’t bank on that.
“There’s what we call antigenic drift. So it could change by the time Australia had theirs 6 months ago to when ours starts to peak in January, February, things can change,” he explained.
So far, the CDC reported mostly sporadic activity across the country.
The good news, Dr. Saul said, this time around, the flu shot is more potent.
“All the flu shots now have four strains so that increases our chances of protection,” he said.
Two people in Connecticut have already died from the flu.
“That’s early,” Dr. Saul stated, “But that should open up everyone’s eyes to say ‘hey, flu is here, time to get my flu shot.'”
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Patients admitted at Bridgeport Hospital with viral infections are tested for the flu.
The number, while relatively low, is raising concern.
“With weather we’ve had, we’re seeing lots of people with all types of respiratory illnesses starting to show up right now,” Dr. Saul explained.
He prescribes the flu vaccine, which he believes offers the best protection.
He said while it provides, at most, 50 to 60 percent protection, it does cut down on symptoms.
Something else to think about is that not everybody can get the flu shot.
That’s why Dr. Saul said those of us who can, 6 months and older, should get it.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health recently changed the status of flu activity in the state from sporadic to local. There is an uptick in flu activity, particularly in southwestern Connecticut.