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The “nightmare” of this year’s flu season

The “nightmare” of this year’s flu season

Nico Mallozzi is one of 27 people under the age of 20 already dead of this year’s flu strain.

I noted that this year’s flu season was likely to be harsh, especially in the wake of an ineffective vaccine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifying it as “moderately severe” and anticipating over 50,000 deaths.

However, numbers and statistics are meaningless when a parent loses a child over a “simple case of the flu”. This year’s flu has claimed a number of young lives already.

California is being hit particularly hard, with reports of at least 27 deaths of people under the age of 65 in the state since October.

The virus that’s predominating this year is Influenza A (H3N2), and that tends to be more severe. It affects the elderly and the very young, epidemiologist Lynnette Brammer, who leads the CDC’s Domestic Influenza Surveillance Team, told Fox News.

But the flu can hit anyone.

Mimma Mallozzi, the mother of 10-year-old Nico, shared her grief over his death due to flu-induced sepsis, as a warning to others about that nature of this disease.

Nico came down with what seemed like an average case of the flu last week. Though he was sick, he seemed well enough to accompany his hockey team, the Connecticut RoughRiders, to a weekend tournament in New York, the New Canaan News reports. While in New York, however, Nico’s health took a sudden turn.

“He progressively got worse,” Mallozzi remembers. “I didn’t like the way he looked.” Mallozzi called 911 on the family’s way home from the tournament, and Nico was taken to a New York hospital. On Sunday, he died from sepsis resulting from pneumonia — a complication of the flu, according to the New York medical examiner’s office.

“He was just a carefree, fearless, easy-going child, full of energy,” Mallozzi says. “It’s actually a nightmare.”

What is particularly troubling is how quickly this version of the flu ravaged the health of robust young people in good condition. The deaths of a 21-year-old bodybuilder in Pennsylvania and a 40-year-old California marathoner have been widely reported and have raised concerns about this year’s flu strain.

The 2018 flu season marks the centennial anniversary of the pandemic known as the Spanish Influenza. One of the hallmarks of this strain was the way it turned the infected person’s immune system against itself. The notorious virus is suspected to have triggered a “cytokine storm“, which eventually causes a fatal case of pneumonia and tends to target people with stronger immune systems.

A cytokine storm is an overproduction of immune cells and their activating compounds (cytokines), which, in a flu infection, is often associated with a surge of activated immune cells into the lungs. The resulting lung inflammation and fluid buildup can lead to respiratory distress and can be contaminated by a secondary bacterial pneumonia—often enhancing the mortality in patients.

This little-understood phenomenon is thought to occur in at least several types of infections and autoimmune conditions, but it appears to be particularly relevant in outbreaks of new flu variants. Cytokine storm is now seen as a likely major cause of mortality in the 1918-20 “Spanish flu”—which killed more than 50 million people worldwide—and the H1N1 “swine flu” and H5N1 “bird flu” of recent years.

In these epidemics, the patients most likely to die were relatively young adults with apparently strong immune reactions to the infection—whereas ordinary seasonal flu epidemics disproportionately affect the very young and the elderly.

New findings indicate that the standard recommendations for flu prevention may not be enough, as the virus is transmitted via airborne exposures more readily than first thought.

The study — which included researchers from San Jose State University and UC Berkeley — provides new evidence for the potential importance of the flu’s airborne transmission because of the large quantities of infectious virus researchers found in the exhaled breath from people suffering from flu.

“The study findings suggest that keeping surfaces clean, washing our hands all the time, and avoiding people who are coughing does not provide complete protection from getting the flu,”
Sheryl Ehrman, dean of the College of Engineering at San Jose State University, said in a statement.

“Staying home and out of public spaces could make a difference in the spread of the influenza virus.”

In conclusion, follow the CDC prevention guidelines, pay attention to outbreaks where you live and avoid those venues, and don’t dismiss prolonged high fevers or other unusual symptoms as “just the flu”.


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My heart goes out to these grieving people.

My parents (God rest them) lost near and dear ones to the great influenza of 1919.

So incredibly sad

I know I am gonna get flamed for this, WTF were the parents of that kid and his coaches thinking letting him go on a trip when he was sick? I am a School Nurse and if you don’t look like you feel good you don’t go on trips. (Yes the coaches hate my guts, but on well.) WTH were these people thinking?

My fellow Nurses and I have been prepping for a bad flu year, especially with the year Australia had. (Our flu season typically mirrors theirs.)

Now with this going around we are going to crack down even harder. Our usual rule is you must be fever free for 24 hours without medication to reduce fever. We are gonna move that to 48 hours, possibly 72 depending on what our Medical Director says.

We are probably going to expand sending kids home from just fevers to “flu like symptoms”. (Flu Like Symptoms = If the Nurse thinks you are sick enough.)

Yea, the flu caused this kids death, but sending him on an unnecessary trip out of state only added to it and that is on the parents and coaches.

    You aren’t going to get flamed by me Gremlin1974. I’m a medical scientist and I couldn’t agree with you more. There is no such thing as “just the flu” this year. Worse when you go out in public you are exposing everyone around you to the flu.

    I’m very sorry that these parents lost their precious child, but allowing him to travel to New York was a very irresponsible thing to do, not only for the child but for all the people that he exposed to a very dangerous disease.

    LibraryGryffon in reply to Gremlin1974. | January 21, 2018 at 12:09 am

    I wish you had been my kids’ middle school nurse! She wouldn’t send kids home (or even call the parents) unless the child was running a fever of at least 101. (And throwing up didn’t count if there was no fever.) I got in a lot of trouble for keeping them home if there was any hint they were sick, because I came home once to a seriously ill child who had been stuck at school all day and couldn’t call me until they had gotten off the bus.

    I hate to think what might happen this year if she was still a practicing nurse.

Walgreens keeps a flu index based on sales of items from their stores in various regions – based on their index, Texas has been the hardest hit and East Texas the epicenter of the epidemic. (this week the #1 slot went to El Paso, after Tyler-Longview had been on top for 4 weeks)

Everyone I know and am related to around here started getting it around mid December, and I mean *everyone*!!! Seems to be incredibly high in terms of ease of transmission, although the symptoms haven’t been quite as bad as previous years. (but true migraine headaches are reported a lot from this one, from people who don’t ordinarily get them)

of course this isn’t a contest to see who can claim the worst spot, but i take issue with the statement that “California is being hit particularly hard” – the middle of the country is being hit much harder. top 10 states for flu activity according to this index are currently Texas, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Idaho, Wisconsin, Montana, Oklahoma.

    snopercod in reply to Tom Servo. | January 20, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    That map seems to be at odds with the article, which states “California is being hit particularly hard”. Maybe illegals don’t shop at Walgreen’s?

      Tom Servo in reply to snopercod. | January 20, 2018 at 10:57 pm

      California is an entire state full of drama queens. 200 people get sick, 20 million people have fainting spells to show how much everyone should feel sorry for them. 2 million people get sick in Texas, we deal with it and do the best we can without whining to the world about it.

I don’t know what is happening this year but it is bad.I love in North Louisiana. The first of December a patient told me he had been very ill, but could not tell much more. He was ok so we requested records and arranged for the next visit. I washed up and went home as it was the end of the day. 24 hours later I was having fever, sweats , cough and hurting like stink. Went to the local doc in a box and they would not treat me as I was too sick. Went to the ER and did not have a no and was found with renal failure, carditis, bilateral pneumoia, stroke multiple abscess and a number of other issues. Spent a week in ICU. So that is the nature of what is happening.

I capitulated and got a Flu shot this year. I wash my hands after going into town, too.

    david7134 in reply to snopercod. | January 20, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Get the pneumonia shot as well.

    I have yet to get a flu shot, but I am thinking much more seriously about doing so. I guess that’s progress. 😛

    Gremlin1974 in reply to snopercod. | January 20, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I carry Alcohol gel everywhere.

    Granny in reply to snopercod. | January 20, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    The flu shot this year is useless. The thing to understand about the flu vaccine is that it is predictive – based on the “best guess” (seriously a guess) of what the flu strain will be a year and a half down the road. It takes time to develop the vaccine and manufacture it in large quantities. Some years they guess pretty closely and other years they miss it by a mile. This years is a total miss.

    RE the pneumonia vaccine, that vaccine is intended to prevent BACTERIAL pneumonia, which is due to a specific bacteria. The pneumonia that results from the flu is viral pneumonia – a totally different thing. Having the pneumonia vaccine will not prevent viral pneumonia.

I had the flu. Noticed symptoms new years eve. Lots of dry hacking/coughing. I thought at first that I had inhaled a speck of dust and my lungs were simply trying to expel it. I woke up teh next day feeling terrible and slept almost through to the next day. The odd thing about this version of flu? I only had a nasty fever with mild joint/headache – felt totally exhausted going from couch to bathroom. I had no other symptoms like vomiting or GI tract problems. Just exhausted to the bone. Seven days later I felt 95% much better – still felt a bit weak though.


This year‘s flu shot isn’t totally useless, it just matches some not all of the flu that’s going around. It seems like the one that’s making people really sick is not one of the ones that it matches exactly.

I’m hearing miserable coughing and wheezing sounds throughout my building and through the walls (the new construction is crap). I believe I caught it, ( the air vents are all connected) but have only been tired w some headaches, I haven’t had the throat and stomach misery I hear all around. So far.
I got the flu shot in September.

Stop giving people a false sense of security by giving them a shot that is 10% effective. Tell them to wash their hands and stay home if they are sick.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Roux. | January 20, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    There is reasonable evidence that even if it doesn’t “prevent” you from getting a certain type of flu, just having the shot on board can actually reduce the severity of the strain of flu you might end up with.

My grandfather’s first wife died in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918. His sister was a domestic who had Sundays and Thursdays off. When she visited my grandfather and his wife on Sunday, everything was fine, but by Thursday when she had her next day off, my grandfather’s wife was dead. It was that sudden.

On the other side of the family, my grandfather, his sister, and his BIL also had the Spanish flu, but evidently my grandfather and his sister had moderate cases. His BIL, however, had it more severely, complete with febrile hallucinations and whatnot. All survived, though. Despite tending to all the others who were stricken, my grandmother did not get sick at all, nor did her young niece, even though both were in close contact with the others. At first my grandmother had worn a face mask, but she quit using it after the first day, complaining that it restricted her breathing too much and was therefore rather uncomfortable. She found it remarkable that both she and the young girl (< 3 YO) escaped without contracting the flu, especially since it was nigh impossible to keep a youngster at that age completely isolated from her sick parents.