Nine more people died from severe seasonal influenza from Tuesday to Thursday, bringing the total number of reported deaths from flu since last year in July to 94, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
The nine people who died ranged from middle-aged to elderly and were all infected with the H1N1 virus strain, commonly known as swine flu, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.
Chou said that none of those who died recently from flu had been vaccinated against seasonal flu viruses, adding that receiving flu shots is the most effective way of preventing the disease.
The CDC also reported 36 new severe cases of seasonal influenza in just three days, bringing the total number of severe cases of flu to 1,648. A majority of the severe flu patients had not been vaccinated.
Chou said those who are in high risk groups, such as young children and the elderly, as well as people with chronic diseases, are more prone to develop complications and severe symptoms when they catch the flu. People who fall into these categories are strongly advised to receive flu shots if they have not already done so, he said.
Vaccine maker Novartis yesterday also announced it was providing free of charge 30,000 doses of flu vaccine for adults, to be distributed across the country.
Less than 200,000 doses of flu shots remain, the majority of which were intended for children, but are now available for adults, who can receive two children’s shots as the equivalent of a flu shot for an adult.
The CDC said that according to the WHO, the next flu season will run from this year through next year and is expected to be dominated by the A(H1N1) virus and other strains similar to this season’s strains.
Although people who have already been infected develop immunity within two to three weeks, they are nevertheless advised to rest and drink plenty of water to help rebuild their immune system.
The CDC added it would extend to the end of next month an offer of publicly funded Tamiflu, a treatment for the flu, to patients who experience high fever for two consecutive days and those who live with such a patient and have themselves developed flu-like symptoms.