Flu season is never a pleasant time. The weather is bitter, winter break has just ended, and everybody seems to contract some sort of sickness. However, this year, Mother Nature has treated Americans and Canadians of all ages and places with an especially nasty strain of influenza.
The United States and Canada have counter-measures when combatting with the influenza virus and its subtypes, but the seasonal sickness is relentless and unforgiving. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) based in Atlanta, the very young, old, and hospitalized are at high risk of fatality due to their weaker immune systems. The average death toll from flu season hovers around the 36, 000 mark.
As this year’s season is presently ongoing, the total number of fatalities remains uncertain, but the educated guesses are being placed rather high. The CDC release weekly reports of information related to influenza. According to last week’s report, extremely high flu activity can be found in every state of America save Washington, Idaho, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, Maine, and Hawaii. Deaths have jumped to 4000 lives a week. So far, a total of roughly 28, 000 people have succumbed to the flu, 63 of which were children.
While these statistics are slightly unsettling, they do not include the numbers from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). While the Canadian flu season is not as grand as the country’s southern neighbor, the virus’ effects are much more aggressive than predicted. In contrast to the 63 deaths of children in the states, there have been a total of 83 critical cases of pediatric flu and 5 deaths. The alarming devil in the details is that two of these lost lives belonged to a 12-year-old girl from Guelph and a 10-year-old boy from Waterdown, both in Ontario.
What grows fear at the back of the minds of pathologists and epidemiologists is that viruses like influenza are becoming more severe, their seasons are lasting longer, and the base amounts of infection and fatality are rising.
With this information in mind, it seems as though humanity will fall prey to sickness in similar fashion to Stephen King’s The Stand. Fortunately, both the CDC and PHAC are working non-stop to deter the virus through research in vaccines and sanitary counter-measures.
In a world filled to the brim with issues and subjects of concern, sanitation awareness is being put on the back-burner more often than not and should be more prominent in daily minutiae. Next time the opportunity to wash your hands presents itself, rise to the occasion. It is better to be half a minute late and clean than on time and down with the sickness.