Influenza cases up and immunity down this flu season

January 24, 2013 9:00 AM

Chase Vicenzi

This flu season is already proving to be the worst in years, and Louisiana is one of the states that has been hit hard by the virus. According to Dr. MarkAlain Déry, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Tulane School of Medicine, this season has been remarkable not just in the number of cases but when the virus first presented.

Flu file

The highly transmissible strain of influenza arrived earlier than usual, resulting in once of the worst flu seasons in decades, according to Dr. MarkAlain Déry, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Tulane School of Medicine. (Photo from Masterfile)

“The flu came unbelievably early,” Déry says. “On call over the holiday I saw quite a bit of the flu, more than you’d expect to see, and those infected were the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and the young.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22,048 cases of the flu were reported nationwide from Sept. 30 to the end of 2012, compared to only 849 cases reported during the same period last year. The reason for the astronomical numbers is just the nature of this particular strain of influenza, says Déry.

“This virus has the ability to be incredibly transmissible,” Déry says. “It’s constantly mutating and has been so successful in spreading from person to person this season in such a masterful way.”

He describes the symptoms associated with the flu as being the equivalent to the immune system “going 100 mph in the first gear” and when asked about getting vaccinated, Déry says he gets his “as soon as they come in.” Déry says the vaccine is the best way to avoid the flu and remains very safe.

“The notion of not trusting vaccines is very old and wrong,” Déry says. “If you let go of your phone, gravity will 100 percent pull it to the ground. That’s how certain I am that vaccines don’t cause any problems.” 

According to theWELL, flu shots are still available at the Tulane Student Health Center on the uptown campus, Monday through Friday.

Chase Vicenzi is a junior at Tulane who is studying communication and political science.

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