CDC updates flu stats: at least 63 children have died

Flu season in 'second wave'

Flu season in 'second wave'

Flu-related hospitalizations rose to about 60 people out of every 100,000 in the fifth week of 2018, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in its weekly surveillance report.

Outpatient and emergency room visits remain high with flu cases, and the rate of hospitalizations is at the highest since the CDC began tracking the flu 10 years ago, she said.

State health officials say the number of flu-related deaths in IN this season reached 167 last week, up from 136 the previous week.

"We don't know if we have hit the peak yet", said Anne Schuchat, acting CDC director.

Though the Northern border near Canada and a little bit along the West Coast show some signs of easing, there are "likely many more weeks to go", CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

Two other strains are on the rise, however, and they generally cause milder symptoms. She urged Hoosiers to get a flu shot if they haven't already and to take precautions, including frequent hand-washing and covering their mouths when coughing, to protect their families. CDC researchers noted there may be the potential for several more weeks of elevated influenza activity, and it is only week 11.

But at the same time, reports of Influenza B infections are on the upswing, according to the CDC.

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"I wish there was better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Schuchat said at a news conference.

She said the flu remains widespread in almost all states, except for OR and Hawaii. OR and Hawaii, the exceptions, both recorded regional activity for the fifth week of the year.

The latest statistics showed that the share of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness - defined as fever of 100 degrees or higher coupled with a cough, sore throat, or both - was 7.65 percent for the week ending February 3. Overall, there are estimated to be as many as 56,000 deaths linked to the flu during a bad year.

On the subject of vaccines, Schuchat added that the Department of Health and Human Services is "looking at this season's data very carefully" and understands the "need to talk about longer-term approaches to improved flu vaccines".

Doctors are reporting that some patients have been infected with H3N2, the primary A strain of the flu, along with a B strain.

Schuchat said hospitalizations also have increased for people who have developed bacterial pneumonia as a outcome of the flu. Last week, 1 in 10 of all deaths reported in the United States were caused by flu or pneumonia. This rate is higher than the anticipated 7.3% pneumonia- or flu-related deaths estimated for the week.

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