Flu season is barely upon us but if early signs are any indication we are in for a historical one.
For the first time in 13 years, flu symptoms are being simultaneously reported across the United States. According to the head of the CDC’s influenza division, Dr. Dan Jernigan, “this is the first time that we’ve had the entire continental U.S at the same level of flu activity at the same time.” Dr. Jernigan further goes on to warn that this may be a more severe flu season than last year.
Last year’s death toll from flu-related complications in children alone totaled 101. As of January 6, 2018, the number of childhood deaths due to the flu virus is at 20.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics data, 7% of deaths during the week ending December 23 in older people were caused by pneumonia and influenza.
Lynette Brammer, head of the CDC’s Domestic Flu Surveillance team, states this is above normal for this period.
Flu hospitalizations have nearly doubled from 13.7 to 22.7 in one week.
Patients ages 65 and older represent the majority of patients hospitalized with the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus.
Jernigan also reported that the H3N2 is connected to higher hospitalization rates and deaths. Another factor is the resistance of the H3N2 strain to the flu vaccine. He has stated that the vaccine may only be effective 30% of the season.
This is considered a severe flu season in comparison to an active flu season. In an active flu season a large population of people may become sick but during a severe season many people are actually hospitalized or die from the infection.
CNN reported Jernigan as saying, “It has been an early flu season that seems to be peaking.” There has been a 5.8% increase in laboratory-confirmed cases this week vs last.
Although this number does not encompass the number of people suffering from the influenza virus that has not seen a doctor, the number of confirmed cases ending January 6, 2018, is totaled to be 60,161, according to CNN.
More information on this historical flu season can be found at CNN.com