Flu Spread Across US for 3rd Week Running
The flu blanketed the US, sans Hawaii, again last week for the 3rd week running.
Last week, 1 in 15 doctor visits were for symptoms of the flu. That is the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in Y 2009. The government does not track every flu case but estimates how many people seek medical care for fever, cough, aches and other flu symptoms.
Flu is widespread, 39 states reported high flu traffic for doctors last week.
At this rate, by the end of the season somewhere around 34-M Americans will have gotten sick from the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.
Hospital stays and deaths from the flu among the elderly so far have not been as high as in some other recent flu seasons. However, hospitalization rates for people 50 to 64 has been unusually high, CDC officials said in the report, which covers the week ending 20 January
This year’s flu shot targets the strains that are making Americans sick, mostly the H3N2 flu virus. But exactly how well it is working won’t be known until next month. It is the same main bug from last Winter, when the flu season was not so bad. It is not clear why this season is worse, some experts said.
There may be some change in the virus that hasn’t been detected yet, said the CDC’s Dr. Dan Jernigan, said Friday.
Based on patterns from past seasons, it’s likely the flu season will start to wane soon, experts say. There are some places, like California, where the season already seems to be easing, CDC officials said.
The season usually peaks in February, but this season started early and took off in December.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness.
The virus can cause a miserable but relatively mild illness in many people, but more a more severe illness in others. Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk from flu and its complications. In a bad season, there as many as 56,000 deaths connected to the flu.
In the US, annual flu shots are recommended for everyone age 6 months or older. Last seasons, about 47% of Americans got vaccinated, according to CDC figures.
Take good care, have a terrific weekend