TONIGHT AT 10: Growing Flu Faster

In 2009, 12,000 people died from H1N1 flu.

It’s the last influenza pandemic to hit the United States. The H1N1 flu pandemic hospitalized more than 274,000. For the first time since 2009, H1N1 flu cases are on the rise. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the 2014 flu season is having a bigger impact on younger people.

Usually, flu affects two age groups: children under 5 and adults over 65. As of January 17th, more people are dying from flu and pneumonia than expected for this time of year. Deaths among young children doubled from 10 to 20.

Flu season isn’t expected to peak until February.

The increased number of young people, between 18 and 64, being hospitalized this year is similar to what the CDC says happened during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 2009 was the last time that H1N1 was the predominant flu virus in circulation. The fact that younger people are being hospitalized more this season is linked to the fact that those over 65 have been exposed to H1N1 and similar viruses earlier in their lives and built an immunity.

60.8 million people became sick in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic. There were more than 274,000 people in the hospital. Between time off work and medical cost, the cost of flu is into the tens-of billions.

What happens when those numbers start to grow?

In 1918, the Spanish flu killed approximately 50 million people around the world. It is still regarded as the worst pandemic in recorded history. Pandemics come in waves. Since 1918, there have been four major waves of flu: the 1957 Asian Flu, the 1968 Hong Kong Flu, the 1977 Russian Flu and the 2009 Swine Flu. Research being done in Bryan, Texas, could help save millions of lives when the next pandemic hits.

Funded by a public-private partnership, the Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing at Texas A&M University is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and GlaxoSmithKline on the process of supplying 50 million vaccines to the United States in the event of another influenza pandemic. As soon as the flu type is identified, the CIADM should have millions of vaccines ready to go in just four months.

I wanted to do this story because almost everyone has had the flu or known someone who has been sick. Influenza affects millions of people each year. Whether it’s time off work, out of school or away from loved ones, the flu stops everyone in their tracks.

The research happening in Bryan/College Station and at Texas A&M is going to have a direct effect on you and your family when the next big pandemic strikes. It’s not a matter of “if.” These scientist know that pandemics will always be an emergency. Now, they have worked out a plan to respond quicker than ever before.

Watch “Growing Flu Faster” tonight at 10 p.m. on News 3.

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