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What is the H3N2 flu and how bad is flu season this year?

Published: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 @ 5:09 PM

Ohio has reported the third flu-related infant death this season.

This year’s influenza season, dubbed “moderately severe” by health care officials, has hit the United States hard, with the number of recorded cases of the disease in parts of the country up more than 500 percent.

Thirteen children have died from the flu since October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with widespread flu activity being reported now in 46 states. California alone has seen 27 flu deaths this season, with 41,000 cases of flu  confirmed in the United States as of the week of Dec. 27.

The level of flu could soon be classified at epidemic level, Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan from the CDC said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this week.

<<11 things parents need to know about the flu, the vaccine, how long kids need to stay out of school

"What we're seeing this year the influenza season started earlier and seems to be peaking right about now," Jernigan, who is director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at CDC, told "GMA."

"That's about a month earlier than it normally would be peaking," he said, "so lots of cases [are] happening, in lots of states, all at the same time."

Jernigan also addressed the talk of the flu’s effectiveness.

"We know that the influenza vaccine is the best way to prevent, but in this season it is not as effective as it is for the other viruses that circulate," Jernigan said on “GMA.”

Jernigan explained that the vaccine is more effective in trying to prevent other flu strains circulating in the United States than it is for the main strain of flu that has hit the U.S. this year.

Here’s what there is to know about this year’s flu season.

What kind of flu is being seen the most?

The prominent strain in Australia’s flu season was the H3N2 form of influenza A. That strain is what doctors are seeing in this country as well. The strain is included in this year’s flu vaccine.  

How effective is the flu vaccine?

Despite what has been reported about the flu vaccine’s effectiveness, the CDC says it believes the “U.S. VE estimates from last season are likely to be a better predictor of the flu vaccine benefits to expect this season against circulating H3N2 viruses in the United States.” Last year’s effectiveness for the H3N2 virus was around 43 percent. The CDC also stressed “Estimates of the flu vaccine’s effectiveness against circulating flu viruses in the United States will be available later in the season.”

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms include:

High fever

Cough

Sore throat

Runny nose

Muscle aches

Headaches

Nausea

Fatigue

The symptoms of flu can come on quickly. If you have these symptoms you need to see a doctor. The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus and infected to when symptoms begin is about one to four days, with an average of about two days.

What can you do to try to prevent it?

If you have not gotten a flu shot, it’s late, but it is not too late. While thousands have gotten the flu, the influenza season is just reaching its peak. The CDC recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of 6 months – infants and older people should especially be inoculated, according to the agency.

Remember, after the vaccine, your body can take up to two weeks to build up defenses against the flu virus.

If you are allergic to eggs, let your medical provider know that before you get the vaccine. The flu vaccine is grown using eggs.

Can you catch the flu from the vaccine?

No, you don’t get the flu from the vaccine because the vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can't transmit infection.  

What if I already have the flu or at the symptoms of it?

Anti-viral medication – like Tamiflu – will help lessen the symptoms of flu. However, you need to start taking anti-virals within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. 

There seems to be a lot of flu around, is it an epidemic?

There are specific parameters used to determine if the flu has reached epidemic levels. Influenza is considered at epidemic level when the number of deaths from flu surpasses a threshold set by the CDC. In the last week of reports from the agency, the number of flu deaths was 0.2 percent below the threshold the CDC set, meaning a flu epidemic is possible soon. 

In years where the flu is considered “mild,” the CDC estimates it kills around 12,000 Americans. In moderately severe years, as this one is being called, 56,000 could die.

Here’s what’s new for this year’s flu season

From the CDC:

The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.

Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.

Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.

quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine (a vaccine designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses), is available this season.

In this Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, photo, a nurse administers an I.V. push of antibiotics to Alice McDonald at ProMedica Toledo Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. A nasty flu season is hitting U.S. hospitals already scrambling to maintain patient care amid severe shortages of crucial sterile fluids, particularly saline solution needed to administer I.V. medicines and rehydrate patients.(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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Maryland rain-soaked, flash floods wash out Ellicott City

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 6:55 PM

Flash flooding covers Rogers Avenue and Main Streets in Ellicott City, Md., Sunday, May 27, 2018. Flash flooding and water rescues are being reported in Maryland as heavy rain soaks much of the state. (Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Kenneth K. Lam/AP
Flash flooding covers Rogers Avenue and Main Streets in Ellicott City, Md., Sunday, May 27, 2018. Flash flooding and water rescues are being reported in Maryland as heavy rain soaks much of the state. (Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun via AP)(Kenneth K. Lam/AP)

Heavy rains soaking much of Maryland have led to flash flooding in parts of the state.

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Main Street in Ellicott City, which is just outside of Baltimore, was filled with rushing brown floodwater Sunday afternoon. 

A flash flood emergency was issued for Howard County at 4:40 p.m.

The city was still recovering from a devastating 2016 flood that left two people dead. 

Gov. Larry Hogan has issued a state of emergency and urged residents in flash flood warning areas to seek higher ground.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Customers forced to pay for cheese sue McDonald’s for $5 million, according to lawsuit

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 6:12 PM

File photo.  (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Two McDonald’s customers with a beef about cheese filed a federal lawsuit alleging the restaurant giant is engaged in deceptive and misleading business practices in its sale of the Quarter Pounder with cheese. 

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McDonald’s used to sell four items in the Quarter Pounder category, with or without cheese, with prices ranging from 30 to 90 cents more for cheese than without, then at some point it ended this practice in-store, according to the lawsuit.

"These products cannot be purchased either separately or as part of a value meal, without the customer being overcharged and being compelled to pay for unwanted and undelivered cheese," the lawsuit states, according to The Miami Herald. "McDonald's is being unjustly enriched by these practices, because it receives payment for cheese it does not deliver to its customers."

Cynthia Kissner of Broward County and Leonard Werner of Miami-Dade County filed the class-action lawsuit May 8 asking for $5 million, according to the Herald

The Quarter Pounder was trademarked in 1975 with the following ingredients; a frozen beef patty, sesame seed bun, tablespoon of diced fresh onion, mustard, ketchup and two Heinz pickle slices, according to USA Today.

McDonald’s currently lists the ingredients as; a quarter-pound beef patty, sesame seed bun, pasteurized process American cheese, ketchup, pickle slices and onion. 

The current menu only lists the Quarter Pounder with cheese, however customers have more sandwich options through the restaurant’s app, Andrew Lavin, the attorney who filed the suit, told the Herald

“So McDonald's is offering two specific products: one is a Quarter Pounder and one is a Quarter Pounder with Cheese,” Lavin said. But if you go into the restaurant that option is not available to you."

McDonald’s has 21 days to respond to the lawsuit. 

“We do not believe the claims in this lawsuit have legal merit,” the restaurant told USA Today. "The advertised Quarter Pounder burger comes with cheese. We try to accommodate our customers’ requests by allowing them to customize their orders, such as a Quarter Pounder with no cheese.”

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Subtropical Storm Alberto strengthens bringing gusty winds, heavy rains, storm surge to Gulf region

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 10:31 AM

What are Tropical Storms?

Tropical storm warnings are up across Florida and along parts of the Gulf Coast as Subtropical Storm Alberto lumbers across the Gulf of Mexico ruining Memorial Day holiday plans for thousands of vacationers.

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Update May 27, 2018 5:05 p.m. EDT: Subtropical Storm Alberto continues to move north, north west with no change in strength.

The Tropical Storm Warning along the west coast of Florida south of the Anclote River has ended, according to the National Hurricane Center

The Storm Surge Warning for the northern Gulf Coast of west of Navarre, Florida has ended. 

Update May 27, 2018 11 a.m. EDT: Subtropical Storm Alberto is strengthening with wind speeds clocked at 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, or NHC. The storm is moving north at 14 mph and it’s located about 130 miles southwest of Tampa.

Isolated tornadoes are possible as Alberto closes in on the region. Forecasters are predicting Alberto will make landfall sometime late Sunday or Monday, bringing gusty winds, heavy rain, flash flooding and storm surge to parts of the Gulf Coast.

>> Related: Alberto: PBC saw up to 3 inches of rain last night; expect more Sunday

“Alberto is expected to produce heavy rainfall with a risk of flooding and flash flooding over western Cuba, the Florida Keys and south Florida today. The risk for heavy rainfall and flooding will then spread over much of the southeast U.S. tonight and Monday,” according to the NHC.

The NHC is warning of “dangerous surf and rip current conditions” along parts of the eastern and northern Gulf Coast through Monday.

 

>> Related: Alberto starts to bring rain to Central Florida as storm moves north

(Previous Story)

A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of the Florida Gulf Coast including from Bonita Beach to the Anclote River as well as north near the Aucilla River to the Mississippi/Alabama border, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.

Heavy rainfall is expected as the storm, with sustained winds of 40 mph, continues to move at 13 mph through the Dry Tortugas. 

Five day forecast map. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

A storm surge watch has also been issued for parts of Florida and the Mississippi/Alabama border, officials said

The latest forecast ends the tropical storm and storm surge watch for parts of Louisiana. 

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Former President George H.W. Bush back in the hospital in Maine with low blood pressure

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 2:28 PM

Biography of George H.W. Bush

Former President George H.W. Bush is back in the hospital, according to a family spokesman.

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Bush was taken to Southern Maine Health Care Sunday “after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue,” his spokesman Jim McGrath said on Twitter.

The former president is described as “awake and alert” and will probably remain hospitalized for a few days for observation, McGrath said.


Bush was most recently hospitalized in Houston on April 22, one day after the funeral and burial of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush.

During that hospital stay, he was diagnosed with an infection that had spread to his blood, doctors said at the time, but he recovered and eventually went home.

>> Related: George H.W. Bush remains hospitalized; doctors 'very pleased' with progress, spokesman says

At the time he said he was looking forward to visiting the family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Bush was out and about Saturday, marking the Memorial Day holiday, joining a group of veterans at American Legion Post 159 for a pancake breakfast in Kennebunkport.

“Delighted to join the veterans, including my dear friend Gen. Brent Scowcroft,” Bush tweeted.

>> Related: George H.W. Bush: 9 things to know about the 41st president of the United States

Scowcroft was National Security Adviser during the presidencies of both Bush and Gerald Ford.

“This weekend we remember, and thank, all who have given their lives for our great country,” he said Saturday.

George Bush has a form of Parkinson's disease and uses a motorized scooter or wheelchair to get around. 

He was the youngest naval aviator when he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1943, spurred by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.

>> Related: PHOTOS: George H. W. Bush through the years

He had six children with Barbara Bush, and in 1989, he became the first sitting vice president to secure the presidency since 1837.

Former United States President George H. W. Bush prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before game five of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas.(Pool/Getty Images)

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