While this season has been particularly bad for viral illnesses, not all viral illnesses with fever are actually influenza.
In a typical year, only about 7% of those labelled as having flu, actually have influenza. This year could be a very different percentage. we won't know until the "flu" season is over. I would not be surprised if it was much higher than the 7%. However, we have, so far, as many confirmed cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) as we have confirmed cases of influenza in much of the east coast states with the most reported flu cases. So far, approximately one quarter of those tested are positive for influenza.
All cases of upper respiratory infections associated with fever is reported as flu to the authorities. Most centers do not bother to do the nasal swab to test as to whether it is actual influenza. All hospitalizations and deaths due to any respiratory illness whether it is bacterial pneumonia, RSV, or other pathogen is recorded as due to flu.
The true numbers are posted on CDC web pages and are looked at state by state.
The CDC maintains that children are the main hosts and transmitters of influenza. Hence, the statewide mandate for the past several years in New Jersey for all preschool and school age children, annually.
If we look at the reported and documented numbers of flu in New Jersey in any given year, it is on par with all the states in it's designated CDC region. This year is no different. NJ has some of the highest flu rates in the east and is no different than the others in it's region yet, it has been vaccinating it's children for years.
While I am not surprised at the data, I think many are. We all want an easy fix, we all want a simple vaccine to spare us from the flu, we want it so badly, we are willing to ignore science and statistics. But to what end? All vaccines come with a risk. They are all legally listed as "unavoidably unsafe" and, whenever we take a healthy person and perform a procedure that comes with any risk, we better be sure the benefit is worth the risk. In this case, it isn't. Every year the vaccine court awards families who have either lost loved ones to the vaccine or suffered permanent neurological damage. So, if there is no proven positive effect showing lowered rates of the flu, ethically, losing even one person to the vaccine is not tolerable.
The flu vaccine has never been proven in any study to prevent flu. The term thrown around is a number, some percentage of its efficacy. Efficacy is not effectiveness. Vaccines are the only product the FDA approves and allows to make effectiveness claims without having to prove effectiveness. They only have to show efficacy or antibody response rate.
It has never been shown that an antibody response to flu is protective. In fact, many viruses are fought with the "innate" immune system. This system has much more to do with NK cells
as opposed to the induced immune system which uses memory antibodies. To date, we have studies showing the innate immune system being induced to fight influenza and elucidating the importance of the innate immunity over the induced (antibody) system as the first line of defense in respiratory viral infections including influenza
If the innate immune system is actually the gate keeper for the upper respiratory tract and viral infections, it would seem improving this system would make more sense than anything else. As of now, all we have is adequate vitamin D levels to maintain an alert and healthy innate system and this is not a patentable item. Therefore, no one entity is going to spread this news around. There has been some very decent research involving compounds that also work very well but they are not yet commercially available.
While the CDC website cites studies looking at effectiveness using a placebo group, and they say, in parenthesis, saline injections, this is not ever the case.
The only flu vaccine study that showed a positive outcome for the flu vaccine used a placebo which was a combination of three different vaccines. The outcomes were measured by how many hours each group reported having fever in a a prescribed period of time. Nowhere was influenza ever documented nor were patients examined, the placebo group had approximately 10 hours more of fever for this time period than the flu vaccine recipients. For any trained pediatric nurse, pediatrician or plain old parent, we know that children receiving three vaccines or more at once are expected to mount a febrile response. In fact, studies have shown the febrile response is necessary for any possible immunity. So why was the placebo group given a a tripple dose vaccine while the test recipients only received a flu vaccine? why weren't patients examined once they had a reported fever? This is a poorly designed study from the start which was intentionally set up to see some fever in the placebo group. And, yes, it was supported by drug company money.
What I can recommend for this season of viral illnesses is be sure you are taking approximately 50,000 IUs of vitamin D weekly for the average slim adult and up to 70,000 weekly for bigger adults. Children need their dose titrated from 50,000 for an adult weighing at around 130 lbs.
Many of my colleagues and I have commented on the common homeopathic remedies that have helped. Early on with the aches and pains, eupatorium perfolatum, severe chest pain and having to sit up to not cough or bring up mucous, bryonia. spastic coughing, headache, irritability and gagging with cough has responded well to nux vomica.
In my office I have had amazing success with a SUJOK activation method with a SCENAR device which knocks out the headache, body pains and sore throat, if performed early on.
There is no replacement for adequate rest, sleep and fluids. And, I highly recommend inducing a temporary fever to jump start the immune system by sitting in a hot bath and drinking hot liquid with either chilli, ginger or some other warming herb. Once sweating and body temperature is elevated, it's time to bundle up and get under the covers for a long night of sleep. If difficulty breathing is ever an issue, a visit to the ER or urgent care is required
A spastic cough is what has been lingering for many past the initial febrile phase. It is annoying and can respond to remedies but remember, it's annoying and is in the upper respiratory tract, the bronchus. It is a spasm and not life threatening. Bronchospasm is dangerous for small infants but in larger children and adults it is an annoyance and induced by our response to a virus or irritant. The bronchospasm is expressed by spastic coughing it can be induced by our immune system in response to an infection. Studies have shown it to be related to increased parasympathetic response in the bronchus due to the sensory fibers. Because the bronchospasm can be due to autonomic dysfunction, it can be affected by a scenar treatment for the bronchus.
RSV, influenza and most winter viruses can stimulate a spastic cough that lingers. Antibiotics will not touch this. A productive cough and pain in the chest deserves an exam with a stethescope to be sure there is no pneumonia which does need to be treated with antibiotics. But remember, spastic coughing for a few weeks is the norm and the biggest mistake I see is patients prescribed one round of antibiotics after another, to no avail. An inhaler would make more sense, possibly even a short course of steroids once over the infection phase but antibiotics will never touch viral induced bronchospasm.