(WEHT) – On Thursday, Brad Byrd and Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabadi sat down to discuss the flu season.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to In-Depth. The Centers for Disease Control have revealed this season’s flu vaccine is not an exact match for a particular strain that’s affecting children at an alarming rate. So how does this affect your family?
Let’s get past the headline and bring in Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabadi, Director of Public health at the University of Evansville. Dr. Paayal, it’s great to see you as always.
PD: Thank you, Brad.
BB: That’s concerning when we report that certain flu shots may not work. what do you think?
PD: That’s right, for the first time in a very long time actually in 27 years were seeing a different virus taking place. were seeing the B-strain more dominant. We usually see the A-strain and because we haven’t seen this strain in about 27 years children are being more affected by it.
BB: So the difference between the A and the B strain other than the letters?
PD: Yes, so typically we see the A -strain are H1N1 and H3N2 and then we have B-strain which are the Victoria. typically we see A-strain and they affect various populations but do not cause as severe illness. But B-strain affects children more because they haven’t been around as much to develop that natural immunity. We’ve actually had 32 pediatric deaths thus far and 21 of them have been attributed to the B-strain and also in a typical flu season an A strain dominates earlier in the season and we typically see b- strain later in the season. But we’re seeing kind of the opposite right now. the b has kind of dominated from the get-go.
BB: There’s been a lot of sneezing and coughing, so tell me the difference between the flu and the cold because sometimes there confused. It’s a pretty simple symptom that should alert you.
PD: There are basically two symptoms that kind of differentiate between the cold and the flu. the flu is typically seen with a fever and body aches. Whereas the cold is not. If you are experiencing fever and body ache then that kind of a differentiating factor.
BB: What do you tell people that say I’m going to tough this out, that fever will just go away… I’ll pop a couple of Tylenol and it will be gone in no time.
PD: Most people do decide to tough it out but if it is a severe flu season its best to go to the doctor and get a test. If you are positive for the flu then we can give you antiviral medication and those are most effective if administered in 48 hours. I f you do get a cough or body ache its good to go to the doctor, get on those antivirals.
BB: Most important if you are feeling puny don’t go to work.
PD: The key here is to reduce the spread of disease. So try to stay away from public places, away from other people, away from crowds. But if it’s absolutely necessary, go to work and take the necessary preventive measures. Common courtesy, sneezing in your elbow, disinfecting spaces, things along that nature.
BB: Let’s talk about antibiotics. It’s not a cure-all but I think a lot of folks and me included think that antibiotic is going to help me. But reality?
PD: There’s often misused and prescription of antibiotics. Often times antibiotics are prescribed for viral infections when in reality it’s for bacterial infections. So no, an antibiotic will not do anything for the flu. Antibiotics may be prescribed for the flu if there are underlining bacterial complications that are seen. But just for the flu, antibiotics will not work.
BB: Some of these superbugs so to speak there becoming more resistant to antibiotics and so what do you do in a situation like that? You told me you had a pretty good remedy, elderberry syrup, and you made this but you can get this over the counter.
PD: Elderberry is a potent preventive measure for colds and flu. It’s extremely high in Vitamin D, and vitamin c and zinc. It’s been used for a couple thousand years.
BB: Two thousand years?
PD: Yes! It’s a preventive remedy.
BB: This will help children and adults?
PD: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.
BB: Sore throats?
PD: Yes, sore throats, coughs…
BB: Allergies, cold and the flu. I think we’re in an allergy belt here. That’s the way I feel. But again the two symptoms are fever and body aches.
PD: Fever and body aches are the differentiating factors between the cold and the flu.
BB: You cant get another flu shot? You’re done once you get that flu shot?
PD: Once you get another flu shot, it actually lasts for months. which is kinda your typical flu season.
BB: What’s the window on that?
PD: So flu season usually began September, October. generally peaks January-February and it kinda tapers off in April. So the flu shot, which is a quadrivalent vaccine that contains all four strains, should last you the entire flu season.
BB: I know the CDC is going to keep an eye on it so there’s going to be a different concoction in that vile next year. Probably.
PD: Each year infectious disease experts around the world get together. There are about 114 surveillance centers. They get together, they collect all the data regarding what types of strain should go in the flu vaccine in the following year.
BB: Alright, Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabadi, thank you so much for being here tonight.
PD: Thank you so much for having me.
BB: You’re watching Eyewitness News at 9. Brandon will be right back.
(This story was originally published on January 16, 2020)