January 12, 2015 – H3N2


Anchor lead: What do you need to know about this year’s flu?  Elizabeth Tracey reports

It’s official: 2015 has come in with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declaring the flu epidemic, with cases in almost all US states. Aaron Milstone, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins, says a couple of factors may account for this.

Milstone: This year we think there are two main issues: the flu has come early, usually we don’t start to see the flu until late December early January, and we also noticed a vaccine mismatch.  The vaccine this year contains four different strains, and one of the strains this year didn’t match well with a strain that’s circulating in the community.  That strain that’s a mismatch is the H3N2 strain. Fortunately all of these flu strains that are circulating are susceptible to the antiviral drugs we have, which is great news.  But as we see lots of people being treated for flu, naturally we may see shortages of these antiviral drugs.   :33

Milstone does not recommend stockpiling antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu as that may prevent someone who’s infected from receiving it.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.