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Australia Just Had a Bad Flu Season. That May Be a Warning for the U.S. (nytimes.com)
41 points by pseudolus 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments

We had both kids in hospital from it, and at different times got it ourselves too. We also had about half of our family and friends down with it at some point in the season, and large numbers of workmates off sick (enough to cause staffing issues).

It was absolutely among the worst flus I can personally remember having, and staff at the hospital were openly saying it was the worst season they can remember having in a long time.

Aussie here, was bad in the south island too (Tasmania).

I was sub-par for over a month, started feeling better then down hill again over night. A lot of people at work had time off.

Also had the flu shot.

Did any of you get flu shots?

Yep we get all relevant shots and immunisations. They’re free here so it would be silly not to.

They're close enough to free for me here, but I've never had the flu so the time/potential side effects aren't worth it for me.

Herd immunity is important too. Not everyone, and especially those most vulnerable to flu, can get vaccinated so helping keep it down in the general population helps.


If this is going to be your theory, mind explaining how this works?

My understanding was that the flu vaccines use inactive bits of the flu viruses selected for the vaccines.

I don’t understand how inactive bits of a virus can cause infection?

I panic each morning going into our little room used for scrum daily standup, shoulder to shoulder, people coughing, sneezing ... just to repeat whats already on the Jira board.

There aren't any larger rooms, and being out in the open disrupts other workers.

Anecdotally, the team members in our SF office seem to take more sick time (for being sick)* than the remote ones. Most take public transport, which adds to exposure

I have an immune system issue, and am happy to be remote and avoid most of this exposure

* ie, not scheduled medical appointments

Bit of a tangent, but has anyone made any lifestyle changes that have had a significant (anecdotal) increase to their immune system? I eat quite healthily and do regular sports, yet my immune system seems quite bad compared to other people I know.

I've got family history of sinus issues, I tend to get all sorts of viruses that knock me out for weeks at a time. What works for me may not work for everybody. A lot of it is common sense:

* Limit alcohol intake - binging lowers your immune response and makes you more susceptible to viruses.

* Eat a lot of different foods, in moderation.

* Keep hydrated throughout the day - alcohol, coffee and softdrink (soda) will dehydrate you.

* Remember basic hygiene - get in the habit of washing your hands all the time. Sneeze into your elbow (sigh, yes there's arguments around this too). You don't have to be a germaphobe (sp?).

I've got a routine down now for when I start to get sick. As soon as you feel like you're getting sick (how do you know? take time to note what you feel like when you're healthy. Note the differences):

* Stop all caffeine/acohol intake. Seriously.

* Hydration like crazy: 2L plus of water, plus some hydralyte once/twice a day

* If I'm coughing: ventolin several times per day (as per dr's orders)

* Sinus rinses (I don't like neti pots, there's alternatives) twice daily

* Nasonex in each nostril twice daily

* Sleep. Lots of it.

* Go to the doctor ASAP and get them to diagnose it. Sometimes they will say "wait a week!" other times it is anti-b's / other stuff.

* Get time off work. Depends on work. But, its a bit of a no-brainer when we've had as bad a flu season as we've had.

Again, YMMV.

I've never had the flu, and I'm curious to know why. I have a few theories:

1) I think not having kids might play a part, as every parent of young kids I know always seems to be catching stuff from them. Edit: maybe the stress of having young kids also plays a part.

2) I don't think it's the food I eat as I eat a pretty poor diet, but I do wonder if it might be the amount of food I eat as it's relatively little (I'm at the low end of the healthy BMI range), and scholar seems to have a few studies relating constant CR to a better immune system.

3) I'm a lifelong public transport user. One the one hand people say this might help build up the immune system but it doesn't quite fit with 1).

4) I avoid touching stuff like public door handles and taps.

5) Obligatory Simpsons explanation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0euMFAWF8

Cold showers have helped me. I've already had a reasonably good immune system though. I am on the weird side and probably take 2-5 cold showers a day though.

If I feel a little off, I'll take Vitamin C and Lysine as early preventive measures. The rest of my healthy habits are quite subpar. I exercise frequently, but I eat garbage and I sleep even worse. Averaging about once a year in being sick?

Cold showers are great for immune system. Been taking them daily for the last 3 years.

How do cold showers benefit the immune system?

I seem to recall that Australia's 2017 flu-season was particularly rough, in large part, because the strains that were chosen for vaccination mutated after the vaccinations were produced.

(I wouldn't be surpirsed if the "anti-vaccination" rhetoric, which was playing-up a lot in those years, might've also mis-informed some families about the benefits of flu vaccination.)

It was the same this year, there were reports in the media questioning the efficacy of the 2019 vaccination due to mutation.

Anecdotally, there did seem to be a very large number of sick people around this year (even now, in spring) although I’m sure 99% of the cases weren’t flu proper.

I probably did over a hundred swabs on my patients. I'd say the most common was rhinovirus, then RSV and influenza A, then about 4 other viruses made up the rest. It was certainly more than 1% influenza A. There was a decent amount of influenza B too after a while. Parainfluenza came up strong later in the season.

I got sick 3 or 4 times. I got the flu vaccination a couple of months before all this really took off. I guess that confirms the flu vaccine caused me to get sick (sarcasm).

mutated? Or were the wrong strains simply chosen for the vaccine due to poor predictions?

Me & my wife already got flu, still not through with it.

Should we vaccinate after? Or maybe now when it is still going?

Whenever you can. It's not always to prevent you from getting the flu, but to prevent you from passing it along to others that can't take a flu vaccine for whatever reason. Also elderly, children, immunocompromised folks.

You might have the flu and not know it and it could be deadly to someone else.

NYC checking in.

I've had this thing for long enough that it owes me rent. Fever for 3-4 days and now like 2-3 weeks of hacking crap up. Worst sick I've had in years.

As a busy international business traveler, exposed to all sorts of virus and bacteria, I've tried and tested a lot of remedies. I've found the single most effective mucalytic is fluimucil (acetylcysteine). It's over the counter in most countries. One tab in a glass of water like an alka seltzer. Symptomatic relief in minutes. No drowsiness either.

Breaks down phlegm -> Reduces throat irritation -> Reduces coughing -> Reduces spreading.

Once the phlegm is under control, it's much easier to figure the rest out.

Thanks! I've been taking guafesin and claritin (helps prevent immune system over reaction). Also on a "tea break" as that's probably not helping. Any other advice would be very much appreciated.

If the anti- antivaccine community was less about the fun of bullying and more about lives this is something they could address.

Legislative solutions include making it easier to administrate the vaccine (Doctors try and keep the monopoly on this, requiring appointments and $)

It's also a classic issue of the vaccine for healthy individuals can be seen as more a community benefit so subsidising the cost and/or requiring it in high risk areas like old age homes.

Not running out of vaccines would also help, as happened in Australia this year - https://www.smh.com.au/healthcare/flu-vaccine-shortage-amid-...

In NY, flu shots can be administered by a pharmacist. No appointment necessary, and mine's at the grocery store - takes about 90 seconds, and it's $0 after insurance.

Same in CA.

Many people get a vaccine at a pharmacy here. What you're saying is simply untrue.

Also, I (doctor) give the vaccine for free (government stock). The vast majority of patients that come to our clinic get it done by the nurse and the patient isn't seen by a doctor so we can't even get reimbursed by Medicare for the service. Our nurse's time is donated by the practice. The room is donated by the practice. The vaccine is donated by the government.

But sure, let's make blanket complaints about how doctors are holding everyone's health for ransom.

We did?

The numbers are right there in the article, if you care to look.

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