Flu Expert: More Than Half of the Country is Seeing a Spike in Flu Cases Due to Rapidly Evolving H3 Strains

Article ID: 687621

Released: 8-Jan-2018 3:05 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Stony Brook Medicine

Expert Pitch
  • Credit: Credit: Stony Brook University

    Bettina Fries

This year we are experiencing a significant increase in flu cases throughout the US also in New York state, including Suffolk County.

Bettina Fries, MD, FIDSA, is the Chief of Stony Brook Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases and is available to address the flu outbreak. She says:

"Laboratory testing indicates that similar to last season, H3 strains dominated this season. So far only a small portion of cases are caused by influenza B but this may change.  Already, the numbers of patients seeking medical help for flu like illnesses has increased and most worrisome an 86 percent increase of hospitalized patients with laboratory confirmed flu is reported in the last week.

Although there were some reports of decreased efficacy of the flu vaccine this year in Australia, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC continue to recommend annual influenza vaccination with an injectable influenza vaccine for everyone six months and older, including pregnant women.

Extensive monitoring has been undertaken and found that recommended flu vaccines are safe. It is important to emphasize that even with decreased efficacy a marked benefit is expected from vaccination. It has been shown that flu vaccination is effective in reducing flu-associated deaths among children and adults, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized influenza patients. Individuals who get the flu despite vaccination usually present with a milder case of flu. Vaccination of healthy people will help limit the spread of flu in our community.

Immediate treatment with antiviral medication is recommended for individuals with confirmed or suspected flu who have severe, complicated, or progressive illness, who require hospitalization, or who are at high risk of complications from flu such as residents from nursing homes, pregnant patients, immunosuppressed patients, very obese patients, and Native Americans."

Bettina Fries is available for media interviews. If needed, Stony Brook University has access to a ReadyCam television studio system that provides remote access to television networks.

About Bettina Fries

Bettina Fries is a nationally recognized physician-scientist in the field of microbiology. The focus of her research is on the pathogenesis of chronic infection by the pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, as well as investigations on efficacy of anti-infective antibodies. She has been investigating both the host response to chronic C neoformans infection and the molecular mechanisms that allow the fungus to change based on the host response. She is also focused on the development of monoclonal antibodies against Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) and Klebsiella pneumonia.


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