Thinking of getting your flu shot? It’s always a good idea.
Most of us who fall sick with the virus this season will be fine. You might suffer for a week or so with chest congestion, achy muscles and complaints that drive your family nuts, but you’ll get better.
But for those who are over 75 or living in developing countries however, it’s often a different story.
Presently, up to 650, 000 people die each year from complications arising from seasonal influenza, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate.
The new numbers mark a sharp increase compared to global estimates from just 10 years ago that previously hovered between 250 000 and 500 000 deaths annually.
According to the WHO, the new numbers are based on data that includes more countries.
“These figures indicate the high burden of influenza and its substantial social and economic cost to the world,” said Dr. Peter Salama, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. “They highlight the importance of influenza prevention for seasonal epidemics, as well as preparedness for pandemics.”
“All countries, rich and poor, large and small, must work together to control influenza outbreaks before the arrival of the next pandemic,” he added. “This includes building capacity to detect and respond to outbreaks, and strengthening health systems to improve the health of the most vulnerable and those most at risk.”
The Last Global Pandemic
Why is the flu so feared by the professional community? It’s all about history, which is, unfortunately, often doomed to repeat itself.
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 struck the North America hard and was the deadliest in modern history. It resulted in around 675,000 deaths in one year alone in the United States. In its wake, it immediately lowered the average life expectancy in the country by an alarming 12 years, in just 12 months.
How did it happen? History.com reports of victims dying within just days or even hours of falling sick.
Truthfully, patients’ lungs filled up with fluid and they died suffocating from pneumonia. In all, the flu took down about a third of the entire world’s population that year.
So, not to be all doomsday or anything but it’s always good to be prepared. Hopefully we won’t have to face such a crisis anytime soon.
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