CDC warns flu season may not have peaked

10 February, 2018, 06:44 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Flu season image

'The flu is incredibly hard to predict and we don't know if we've hit the peak yet, ' Dr Schuchat said.

The newest weekly report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the country is experiencing the highest rate of flu-like illnesses since the flu pandemic of 2009.

Middle-aged people are being stricken at almost twice the rate seen in 2014-15, although health officials aren't sure why.

Several factors have made this season especially rough, but the main issue is that the dominant flu strain is an aggressive one.

This is the worst flu outbreak the United States has seen in years.

In Augusta, the peak has yet to arrive and it could signal many more weeks of high flu activity. In Oregon and Hawaii, flu is occurring at a more limited regional level, rather than statewide.

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"Overall hospitalizations are now significantly higher than what we've seen since current tracking began in 2010", she said.

The CDC said 10 more children died from flu-related causes last week. "In general, we can expect a very similar influenza season in Canada compared to the USA but not exactly the same", Dr. Isaac Bogoch, clinical researcher at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute told Global News. "Influenza-like illness is now at the same level as the peak week of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic". She also cited the 63 children's deaths and adults deaths, saying that with the increased number of hospitalizations seen this past week, the mortality rate could rise.

"We don't have any signs of hospitalizations leveling off yet", said Schuchat.

While there were no specifically new strains of the flu this year, the viruses ripping through the US are hard to control with the flu vaccine. This year's dominant strain of influenza A H3N2, does not appear to be different than one that has been circulating in previous seasons but it is being closely studied by virologists for any clues as to why it might be more virulent, Schuchat said.

"We were hoping to have better news..." The agency's virologists are studying it to determine if there are any other explanations for why it's been so hard-hitting.

Laurie Lilley, nursing director for Bureau/Putnam/Marshall County Health Departments, said the vaccine won't eliminate the chances of catching the flu, but it could help reduce the risk. "And that's fine because you know, a lot of times, I just say to the parents, look, if you're anxious, just bring them in, let me listen to the hearts and lungs and make sure there's no super infection", says Dr. Shilpa Patel.

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Schuchat noted that while influenza A (H3N2) remains the predominant strain, influenza B viruses are comprising about 30% of viruses reported in this week's data.

In Massachusetts, hospital admissions for laboratory confirmed cases of flu increased by slightly more than four percent over last week. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, told HealthDay. The flu vaccine is less effective against H3N2 than other flu strains.

There are a number of ways people can protect themselves and others.

"So many states have high activity at the same time", Schuchat said, during the briefing. And some protection is better than none. The flu shot will remain effective for roughly six months. People might need to call around to pharmacies to fill a prescription, said Schuchat.

Don't spread the misery. Hands should be washed frequently. Schuchat urged people to stay home from school and work, if affected with influenza.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that pediatric deaths from the flu, as of February 3, now stands at 63, with one of them in the New England region.

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