Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Current Influenza Epidemic - January 2013

Dear folks,

Well…what a winter this has been so far. As you are aware, the number of people ill with some version of viral/bacterial infection is high, much higher than usual. After reading the different reports from around the country and abroad from colleagues, as well as from medical authorities, I thought I would share some details from my experiences over these past months, in the hopes of capturing that information. I hope you’ll find it useful.

Over the past few months, Amy and I have taken care of numerous patients who were acutely ill. The first thing that seemed striking is that, there have been several different viruses, and shifting sets of symptoms, in a way culminating with the current influenza epidemic. However, regarding this current epidemic, I have noted some observations. Many people who become ill are ill for a short period of time, days or a week, and then recover partially, only to ‘become’ ill once more, in a sort of ebb and flow manner for weeks or even months. This is extremely atypical for the flu virus, which has a typical duration of one week or so. Most of these people were not properly characterized with a lab test to confirm an influenza diagnosis. Many of the people who are ill at this time, while indeed suffering from some virus or bacterial infection, are not actually suffering from the flu.