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今冬流感来势凶猛,易感人群该怎么办?

Sy Mukherjee 2018年01月11日

今年冬天的流感疫情只是“中度严重”,而且尚未达到顶峰。

据美国疾控中心称,今年的流感季节爆发得特别猛恶,是自号称“近年最严重流感季”的2014-2015流感季以来最严重的一次。

美国疾控中心在最近的一篇文章中称:“美国流感疫情高活动性的州由21个上升到了26个,另外纽约市也是今冬流感高发地区。报称流感大面积爆发的州也由36个上升到46个。流感样疾病的发病率由4.9%上升到了5.8%。这些指标已经接近2014-2015流感季的峰值,而那一年也是近年来流感疫情最严重的一年。”加利福尼亚等州的急诊室里前来就诊的流感患者已经人满为患。

今冬流感的普遍症状

据美国疾控中心称,今冬流感有以下常见症状:发烧、恶寒、咳嗽、咽痛、流涕、身体疼痛、头痛、乏力等(流感患者可能会同时出现以上两三种症状)。有些流感患者还伴有腹泻和呕吐。

为何今冬流感疫情特别危险

目前流感的疫情是由于很多因素共同造成的。有些卫生官员称,今冬的流感疫情只是“中度严重”,而且尚未达到顶峰(2月通常是流感疫情最严重的月份)。首先,美国多地今年都遭遇了近年罕见的严寒,使得流感病毒具备了长时间传播的条件,使得疫情更加顽固。

再来说说流感疫苗的事。去年流感疫苗的有效性为39%,今冬流感疫苗的有效性能否达到去年的水平,尚不得而知。有些人认为,今冬流感疫苗的有效性或将低于30%,不过最后的数字只有到今冬流感季结束时才能知道(通常是每年5月份左右)。流感疫苗的有效性通常在40%到60%左右,因为科学家们在量产疫苗前,是不知道这个冬天会流行哪一型流感的,所以他们在研制时免不了要靠一些猜测。每一年都有数万人因流感住院,还有数万人因流感而死亡。小孩、老人和免疫力低下人群尤其高危。

另外,就算你接种了某几型流感的疫苗,你可能也无法躲过其他几种类型的流感。今冬传播范围最大的H3N2流感又是公共卫生专家眼中尤为难对付的一种。这种流感病毒更易引发严重症状,并在小孩和老人中造成更高的死亡率。

现在打疫苗是不是晚了?

好消息是,打流感疫苗什么时候都不晚!虽然有人质疑今冬流感疫苗的有效性,但我们还是推荐有条件者尽量去接种流感疫苗。

在美国,流感疫苗的接种费用基本是可以在工作单位通过医保程序报销的,在沃尔格林和CVS等各大零售药店均可接种。即便是不走医保程序,打一针流感疫苗的费用也才不到20美元。虽然每年接种流感疫苗的理想时间是秋天,但是现在接种也不晚。毕竟疫苗就是为了保护那些抗病能力没有你那么强的人而设计的。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

The 2018 flu season is shaping up to be bad—potentially the worst one since 2014-2015, which was “the most severe season in recent years,” as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says in its latest flu outbreak update.

“The number of jurisdictions experiencing high activity went from 21 states to 26 states and New York City and the number of states reporting widespread activity went from 36 to 46,” wrote the public health agency in a recent post. “Influenza-like illness (ILI) went from 4.9% to 5.8%. ‎These indicators are similar to what was seen at the peak of the 2014-2015 season, which was the most severe season in recent years.” In some states, like California, emergency rooms have already been overwhelmed with people suffering from the flu.

Common 2018 flu symptoms

Here are the tell-tale signs of having the flu, according to the CDC: fever and/or chills, cough, sore throat, a runny and/or stuffed nose, body aches, headaches, and fatigue (flu symptoms may present in groups of two or three or all at once). Some flu patients also experience diarrhea and vomiting.

Why the 2018 flu outbreak could be especially deadly

There are a number of factors driving the current flu season, which is already being called “moderately severe” by health officials and has yet to peak (February is usually when flu season is worst). For one thing, it’s been a particularly cold winter in many parts of the U.S., which makes for a more resilient and longer-lingering influenza virus.

And then there’s the matter of the current flu vaccine. It’s unclear if the flu shot will match last year’s effectiveness of about 39%; some estimates have pegged this year’s vaccine’s effectiveness at closer to 30%, although the final numbers will remain unknown until the end of flu season, which can last through May. The flu vaccine is typically somewhere between 40% and 60% effective since scientists have to use some guesswork as to the strains that will be floating around before mass producing the vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands die from the flu in any given year, and the young, old, and immune-compromised are at the highest risk.

Furthermore, getting vaccinated for certain strains won’t necessarily protect you from other flu types that are going around. And the dominant strain this year, H3N2, is one that public health experts decry as a particularly nasty one. In fact, it’s a strain that’s likely to lead to more severe symptoms and more deaths among the young and the old.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

Now for the good news: It isn’t too late to get the flu shot! And, despite concerns about this year’s flu vaccine effectiveness, everyone is still recommended to get one.

Flu shots are often available for free through employer health programs or at retail clinics such as Walgreens and CVS. Even without insurance, a shot will cost less than $20 out of pocket. And it’s still a good idea to receive your flu shot even though the ideal time is in the fall; after all, the vaccine is meant to protect others who might not be able to cope with the sickness as well as you.

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