Flu Season Continues With Mounting Hospitalizations, Deaths

Flu season in the United States is in its 10th week, but Centers For Disease Control (CDC) officials can’t say if it has peaked yet.”We aren’t out of the woods yet,” Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director of the CDC, said at a Friday morning briefing.Parents should be aware that the flu epidemic is taking a fatal toll on children: 16 kids died from the flu or flu-related problems in the past week, bringing the total of pediatric deaths to 53 for the season.”Unfortunately, flu activity is still high and widespread across most of the nation and increasing overall,” Schuchat said.In January, 49 states had widespread activity. “This week, 48 states still do,” she said. Oregon is the only state reporting less flu activity.Flu seasons typically last 11 to 20 weeks.

 

flu season

Flu Season: 2018 Statistics

Overall, hospitalizations are now the highest since the 2014-2015 season, the previous high season. From October until the end of January, nearly 15,000 people were admitted to hospitals because of the flu. During the 2014-2015 season, 148 children died of flu-related problems.The strain known as H3N2, an influenza A virus, is still causing most people to get sick. But H1N1, another influenza A type, as well as influenza B strains, are also causing sickness.It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. As of mid-January, more than 152 million doses had been given nationwide. And although the vaccine has not been very effective against H3N2, ”its effectiveness against other flu viruses is better,” she said.

Flu Season: Vaccine Supplies

While CDC officials continue to hear about spot shortages of prescription antiviral drugs, manufacturers confirm there are sufficient supplies. To find antivirals, people may have to call several pharmacies.

Parents should keep an eye on their children as well.
According to the CDC, about half of those hospitalized for flu had no other health problems. People who are sick, and head to emergency rooms should take precautions. Most ERs have masks right at the door.
Children without the flu are showing up in emergency rooms only to actually catch the flu in the ER waiting room.
Instead of heading for the ER, adults and parents worried their child has the flu should first call their pediatrician or a nurse hotline. Find out if symptoms need immediate help at the ER.
Which symptoms should trigger immediate concern? In general, worrisome signs are a very high, persistent fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, significant tiredness, or confusion.
In hard-hit California, emergency room directors try to separate those with suspected flu from others without flu symptoms. “We do provide masks,” says Wally Ghurabi,, medical director of the Nethercutt Emergency Center, UCLA Healthcare, Santa Monica.

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