Despite this year’s flu season affecting younger and middle-aged adults more, officials at University Health Services, better known as UHS, say the number of influenza-related cases they treated this year are lower than last year.
Since January 2014, UHS reported 27 influenza-related cases compared to 99 cases reported at the same time last year, according to UHS Medical Director Theresa Spalding. Spalding said she hopes UHS’s flu shot campaign is helping keep the number of cases down.
“Hopefully, it’s just more of the students are taking more precautions and being more aware,” Spalding said.
At the end of February, the City of Austin reported 19 deaths from influenza, 11 of whom were under the age of 60.
Influenza A (H3N2), 2009 influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B viruses have all been identified in the U.S. this flu season, with H1N1 viruses predominating, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Philip Huang, medical director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, said the 2009 H1N1 does seem to affect younger adults, especially pregnant women and those with chronic conditions, more severely than other age groups because of their lack of exposure to similar strains.
“Typically, seasonal flu affects those that are older and the very young children more severely,” Huang said. “This particular strain is similar to some that have been seen in the past in that some of the older populations have developed some immunity to some of the H1N1 components.”
Undergraduate studies sophomore Bryan Luedecke said he got vaccinated early in the semester at UHS to avoid getting sick.
“I think vaccinations are extremely important because they not only protect you, the degree to which is debatable, but they also protect others from the flu,” Luedecke said. “If people aren’t getting vaccinated, it creates problems for you and those unvaccinated people around you.”