photo courtesy // U.S. Air Force

By: Jeremy Nifras, Staff Writer.

The 2018 flu season has statistically been the worst in recent years, with many Americans dying from the virus nationwide.

Compared to past seasons, this year’s flu virus is a strain with an irregular resilience to the current vaccine, which the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says is only 36 percent effective.

As of February 2018, 97 children nationwide have died from the flu, and 48 states altogether have experienced widespread cases.

The main culprit behind this recent epidemic is the H3N2 influenza strain, which is known to cause a strong reaction in the body’s immune system, and can even lead to severe breathing problems and inflammation of the lungs.

These cases may prove to be deadly if medical care is not received quickly. The H3N2 strain notably caused problems for many Australians during their winter season in 2017.

To make matters worse, this flu season has both influenza A and B strains going around simultaneously.

Typically, the A strain dominates earlier in the season before B takes over later on, but the presence of both the A and B influenza strains creates a highly problematic situation for many Americans at risk.

So the question remains: how can one prevent getting sick?

The most obvious method of flu prevention is getting vaccinated. Although this current vaccine is not nearly as effective as in past years, skipping the shot is a risk you shouldn’t want to take.

More ways to avoid contracting the flu are frequently washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into your elbows, avoiding sick people around you and cleaning your work/study environments on a regular basis.

Although all of this sounds scary, there’s evidence the deadly epidemic may be slowing down.

According to the CDC, deaths relating to pneumonia and influenza fell nearly 9.5 percent in the week of February 3 compared to the previous week, and flu-related hospitalizations have steadily decreased in recent weeks.

Despite these facts, you should still take certain precautions to make sure you don’t get infected.