Health & Family

Flu trackers scout for what's coming

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that this flu season doesn't look like it will be any better or worse than last year's. The recommendation includes what strains should be addressed in this year's vaccines.

The newest recommendation is more use of nasal flu vaccine for children 2 to 4. The CDC hopes wider use of it will protect more people against the annual flu outbreak, which hits between November and March.

About 36,000 people die annually from influenza. The groups most at risk: the very young, the elderly and the very sick. The health community believes availability of the nasal vaccine would drastically cut the number of deaths.

The CDC and the World Health Organization track influenza around the world much as weather services track hurricanes. The early report, issued in July, says the strains heading this way are largely similar to the strains from last year.

The CDC must make a good guess about which strains will invade the U.S. – not easy considering the scores floating around the globe. After that it has to make a vaccine that might work. Every few years, they select the wrong strain and another one wreaks havoc.

If you're interested in watching the drama, try “,” a private organization that keeps track of the trackers. St. Louis Post-Dispatch