No matter what our clothing status maybe, bare (naked, nude) or clothed (textile or clothes-wearer), the pesky and troublesome virus known as influenza (flu) often preys on us all. It doesn’t discriminate because of what we do, or don’t, wear. It can, and does, affect all of us, gay (same gender loving), bisexual (dual gender loving) and opposite gender loving (straight) indiscriminately and without mercy. As a health-conscious man, I dutifully received my annual flu shot for this season on December 1, 2017. Less than three weeks later, I was diagnosed with the flu.
So much for a happy winter holiday season. I was sick and actually bed-ridden until New Year’s Day. I still feel weak at times but at least I’m better and intend to be back in the classroom when my university’s winter holiday break ends on January 8, and students return to study. Aside from the fact that the illness is over, the only other positive aspect that I can share is that Aaron, my spouse, has returned to our bed. At least I didn’t infect him.
During my sickness, I read an article in Time magazine regarding this year’s expected virulent flu season. The U. S. Public Health Service are warning that the 2017-2018 flu season will be unusually severe. Cases are being identified earlier than the norm, which is one sign of a particularly strong viral strain. Another cause for concern is that in a typical year, Australia’s flu season mirrors that of the USA. This season in the “Land Down Under,” health officials have witnessed more than double (two-and-one-half times) the number of flu infections than last year. These two incidents alone do not bode well for the US, and the news only gets worse.
Another indicator of trouble ahead is that the vaccine used to inoculate the public may not be as effective in prevention, for the second year in a row. Influenza vaccines are routinely developed by growing the virus in millions of chicken eggs over a period of approximately four months. This process requires developers to predict, as early as Springtime, which strains will be prevalent in the upcoming flu seasons.
Medicine is not an exact (pure) science. It often relies on guess-work and even though scientists are often successful in the outcome, occasionally they aren’t. It looks as though this year’s flu season may be just as bad, if not worse, than last year.
A virus is a living organism and like all viruses, the influenza one rapidly mutates (changes). The result is that sometimes the viral strain that the population was injected with (via shot or nasal mist) isn’t always the same as the one infecting them. This causes a spike in the numbers of people being infected.
This year, there is another factor in play that is hindering the flu vaccine’s effectiveness. Researchers are discovering that the viral strains in the vaccine and the infecting viral strains are similar – by design, at least, a good commonality.
However, this similarity isn’t preventing people from becoming sick. Data is now showing that possibly it may be the way that the flu shots are made that is causing people to become infected.
Since influenza vaccine developers have to guess at what flu strains will prevail each year, they include several varieties of the flu as a means to create a more effective preventative vaccine. The current vaccine for this season includes H1N2, H3N2 and Influenza B. Because viruses are difficult to incubate in chicken eggs, minor adjustments are made to the actual virus. These adaptations may be the reason that the H3N2 strain in this year’s vaccine is less effective and more people are becoming sick, even though they were inoculated.
Scientists are trying to find alternatives to the chicken egg process but as yet are unsuccessful. The recently developed nasal sprays (created in 2003) are no longer endorsed by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because the nasal pray method offered reduced potency in preventing another strain, H1N2, than the traditional flu shot.
Despite these challenges, public health officials still encourage everyone to get vaccinated as a risk reduction strategy. Even if a person becomes sick with one particular flu strain, at least the injection offers protection against other flu strains a person may encounter. In other words, the proverbial adage, “an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure,” remains the case for flu prevention.
In summary, to dispel a popular myth, the flu is not caused by being a bare practitioner (naturist/nudist). It is caused by a virus that doesn’t care about whether a person is clothed or not.