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South Korean CDC Issues Unusual Early Seasonal Flu Warning

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  • South Korean CDC Issues Unusual Early Seasonal Flu Warning

    South Korean CDC Issues Unusual Early Seasonal Flu Warning


    It is no secret that after two years of suppressed flu activity due to global pandemic mitigation efforts (e.g. face masks, social distancing, school closures, etc.), and the near total abandonment of those tactics going into the fall, that many experts expect influenza to return with vigor this fall and winter.

    Admittedly, seasonal flu is highly unpredictable. Literally anything can happen. Including nothing.
    But when you factor in Australia's Early and Impressive Flu Season, and out-of-season outbreaks of flu this summer in Asia (see China NIC Report: Summer Influenza Surge In Southern China and Vietnam: Summer Flu Continues - Tamiflu In Short Supply, New Restrictions On Use), we would appear to have all the necessary ingredients for a particularly nasty flu season ahead.

    Adding to these harbingers, today South Korea's CDC has issued their first influenza warning since 2019 - and unlike in most years, when influenza begins to creep up in November or December - this year they have reached epidemic levels in the first half of September.

    Note: Because of the dual circulation of COVID and flu this year, the South Korean CDC has adjusted their influenza epidemic threshold number downward by about 15%.

    The (translated) statement from their CDC follows. I'll have more after the break.

    Caution in accordance with the issuance of an influenza pandemic advisory

    -Main Content-

    □ In '22, 37 weeks (from September 9 to September), the proportion of influenza doctors exceeded the epidemic standard (4.9 patients), and 'an influenza pandemic advisory is issued nationwide', and caution and prevention of influenza infection are requested.

    ○ (Time of issuing a fashion advisory)

    - (September 22-23) Issued from September 16, 2022 (Friday)

    ○ (Prevention rules during epidemic period)

    - ▲Get vaccinated against influenza, ▲Visit a nearby medical institution if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms, ▲Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water, ▲Wear a mask and follow cough etiquette, ▲Use unwashed hands to your eyes, nose, and mouth do not touch

    □ According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Chairman Baek Kyung-ran), the proportion of pseudo-influenza patients in the 37th week of 2022 (9.4.

    ○ 'On September 16, 2022 (Friday), an influenza epidemic advisory was issued nationwide', urging attention to influenza infection prevention.

    * 2022-2023 season influenza epidemic standard: 4.9/1,000 people (2021-2022 season: 5.8)

    * Calculation of epidemic standards: Average fraction of influenza doctors during the non-epidemic period for the past 3 years + (2 × standard deviation)

    * Influenza-like illness (ILI): A patient who shows a cough or sore throat along with a sudden fever of 38℃ or higher
    ○ This year's epidemic advisory is issued for the first time since 2019, before the Corona 19 outbreak, and more sensitive than the previous season (5.8 → 4.9) was applied.
    - However, at 37 weeks (9.4.∼9.10.), the detection of respiratory viruses was metapneumovirus (20.9%), respiratory syncytial virus (16.7%), rhinovirus (7.4%), bocavirus (7.0%), adenovirus ( 5.6%), the influenza virus detection rate (1.4%) is still low (see Attachment 2).
    □ The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) requires that those eligible for the 'National Influenza Vaccination' starting on September 21,

    In particular, pregnant women and children between the ages of 6 months and 13 years of age, who are prone to complications from influenza, are advised to complete the vaccination as early as possible during the relevant schedule.

    (Continue . . . )

    Although COVID has receded in many places over the summer, it continues to infect millions of people every week around the world, killing more than 10,000 over the past 7 days (see WHO Epi Rept #109).

    If things weren't complicated enough going into this fall and winter, over the past couple of weeks our own CDC has issued health alerts on two other respiratory threats:

    Add in the fact that the United States, Europe,and Asia are all dealing with one or more avian flu viruses with zoonotic potential (H5N1, H5N6, H3N8, H9N2, etc.), and you have a recipe for a challenging winter ahead.

    Normally, I don't get my flu shot until late September or early October, but this year - seeing the signs - I elected to do so this past week, gambling that a few weeks too early is better than a day too late.

    Since the shot only provides moderate protection against selected seasonal flu viruses - and there are many more respiratory threats in this year's queue - I'm also carrying and using my bottle of hand sanitizer religiously, already have my `flu supplies' on hand (including having a `Flu Buddy'), and continue to wear a mask indoors whenever I'm around other people.

    Admittedly, none of these things are guaranteed to protect me. But they should increase my odds of not becoming a statistic this winter.
    All medical discussions are for educational purposes. I am not a doctor, just a retired paramedic. Nothing I post should be construed as specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem, see your physician.