The flu virus is causing widespread panic again this year, with the largest outbreak since the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic that swept through the U.S. in 2009.
Several deaths have already been reported nationwide this season, with 4 dead in Michigan and 5 fatalities already reported in California since October 1.
The H1N1 strain has been one of the most deadly types of the influenza virus ever seen, and is now causing dozens of Americans to be placed on life support in the Michigan area.
Adults and children are both being sent to the University of Michigan hospital in many cases for their need of the specialized life support being offered. Life support at University of Michigan Health System’s hospitals includes not only a ventilator, but also an oxygenation technology in which breathing can be done for patients who can no longer do so on their own.
According to officials in Michigan, it appears that the most ill patients either did not receive a flu shot, or got one too late, already having been exposed to the illness. The flu vaccine apparently takes at least two weeks to be fully effective in fighting off the flu.
Traditionally, the flu has been known to be most hazardous to small children and older adults, but the H1N1 virus is more common in teenagers and young adults.
Doctors nationwide urge people to still get vaccinated, as the peak of flu season usually occurs in January and February.
Main image courtesy Alcibiades via Wikimedia Commons.