intrepid sun has finally beaten the frost into reluctant
retreat. The croci have gathered enough confidence to venture
their tender shoots outside the earth’s blanket. After
months of hibernation, you step outside to take a deep breath
of warm, sweet, fresh air and …
Wheeze. Gasp. Shiver. Moan.
bed you go.
B, the annual spring flu, is on the rise. With its cruel sense
of timing, the virus has hit the nation with slightly more
virulence than usual.
B is theoretically a milder disease than influenza A,"
said Neil Fishman, an infectious-disease doctor at the
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. "Supposedly,
it is much closer to the common cold."
patients Fishman has treated at HUP during the last two weeks
have had more severe symptoms than he usually sees this time
as the winter flu season ends and officials track precipitous
downward trends in reported cases of influenza A, there is an
accompanying increase in influenza B cases, Fishman said.
reason, however, influenza A lingered longer than usual, and
influenza B arrived slightly later than expected, he said.
they cannot be certain, Fishman said, epidemiologists have
speculated that these shifts may be due to the particularly
cold weather this winter, which allowed the virus to survive
longer, or the fact that most of the influenza A was the H1N1
virus, which tends to be a more long-lived illness.
for the week ended March 22 show that 60 percent of samples
tested were positive for influenza A and nearly 40 percent for
mid-February, influenza B was detected in less than 10 percent
the vaccines given last year accurately targeted most of the
strains of flu, Fishman said. There are two influenza B
strains, however, and the less common of them, he noted, was
not covered by the vaccine that most people received.
people inoculated with the more expensive quadrivalent vaccine
or those younger than 50 who were given the inhaled form would
have been specifically protected against both types of
be small comfort to those who have fallen victim already,
Fishman said, but the spring flu usually does not afflict as
many people, and its reign of terror does not last nearly as
long as its winter cousin’s.
B is usually here and gone in six weeks," he said.
"So we’re hoping we’ll start to see a downturn