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Flu may become a year-round virus, according to letter from CDC

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Doctors are warning the Borderland the flu virus could soon become a year-round illness.

Right now, the flu typically lasts from October to around March, but doctors said its not uncommon for cases to be reported as late as May.  That time frame, however, may change.
 
We received a letter from the CDC (Center for Control Disease and Protection) warning that probably next year or the year after they'll declare flu a year-round (virus), said Michael Jacobs, a nurse practitioner with Summit Urgent Care in east El Paso.
 
With 11 deaths and hundreds of reported flu cases in the Borderland so far this season, the thought of flu becoming a year-round problem isn't sitting well with many people.
 
 It does raise concerns, said Julio Mena of west El Paso.
 
Mena said he doesn't typically get a flu shot.  But with this year's severe flu season, and hearing it may become a virus that threatens El Pasoans all 12 months of the year, Mena said he will start being more cautious.
 
Its just being aware, washing your hands and doing the things people normally tend to forget, said Mena.
 
Jacobs said the CDC is predicting this outbreak because, Were such a transient population with the availability of (air travel) that they believe it will start being a year-round disease.
 
If the flu does become a year-round virus, that would mean big changes for everyone.
 
What may potentially happen is that you get scheduled flu vaccines not only for your children, but your adults, said Jacobs.  
 
Jacobs said the flu shot keeps people protected from getting the virus for about six months.
 
It might be a twice a year vaccine until we get caught up, said Jacobs.
 
Jacobs said the only way to reverse the issue is through CDC's monitoring and making sure the flu vaccine protects people against the most current strains of the flu.
 
Were going to have to look at modification of the vaccine and whether or not it's going to be modified every six months to catch the strains going around the world, said Jacobs.
 
This year, for anyone who still wants to get vaccinated, Jacobs recommended getting it as soon as possible because places like Summit Urgent Care are starting to run low on shots.   Jacobs said Summit Urgent Care will not be getting any more shipments of the vaccine this year.
 

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