Virulent flu virus that has knocked NJ for a loop
This year’s influenza outbreak is already the most widespread on record since health officials began keeping track about a dozen years ago, with millions of Americans being infected by emerging and current strains such as the dominant H3N2.
Unfortunately, New Jersey is one of the 26 U.S. states, districts, and territories experiencing high rates of influenza-like illness. The past three weeks have seen a spike in positive laboratory tests for flu throughout the state — particularly in northern and central New Jersey — and in reports of absences in schools and workplaces. Emergency department visits for influenza-like illnesses also have risen during this period.
The flu is nothing to fool around with: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 56,000 influenza-related deaths in the United States for 2012 to 2013.
This year’s vaccination is estimated to be between 10 percent to 30 percent effective, but adults and children are urged to get a flu shot — if they have not yet done so.
While children and people over 65 are most vulnerable, the flu can have complications or be fatal to people of all ages. Women who are pregnant and people with diabetes and other chronic illnesses are also particularly vulnerable.
Enter your ZIP code at www.cdc.gov/flu to find a location near you that is offering flu shots.