Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

CDC: Severe flu season slams all but one state

CDC: Severe flu season slams all but one state

"We are now in the midst of a very active flu season with much of the nation experiencing widespread and intense activity", CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald told reporters during a briefing.

The agency says there have been 54 flu-related deaths, 162 people have been admitted to intensive care units and the number of hospitalizations is "considerably elevated" over the same period in the last two flu seasons.

Officials are also encouraging doctors to treat some flu patients with antiviral drugs quickly, including children, the elderly, people who get severely ill and those suffering from other health problems.

Of particular concern, he said, is the "very rapid increase" in the number of people hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed cases.

In addition, the rate at which Americans are being hospitalized for the flu nearly doubled in the last week, to 22.7 for every 100,000 hospitalizations, according to the CDC.

Official effectiveness data on this season's flu vaccine will not be available until the middle of next month.

Unfortunately, the end of this flu season is nowhere in sight.

He also noted that it's not yet clear how effective this year's vaccine has been, particularly with the A strain.

"There are at least 11 to 13 more weeks of influenza to go", Jernigan said.

The strain, known as H3N2, mutates, making it hard to match what's in the vaccine to the virus circulating in the community, Kendall said. "There's lots of flu in lots of places", says Dan Jernigan, director of CDC's influenza division. "And sometimes the virus mutates in a way you can't predict", he said.

In a report released Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health says influenza-like illness is widespread throughout the state, comprising 6.94 percent of the cases seen by outpatient providers and 4.62 percent of those appearing as the chief complaint in emergency departments.

According to CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, "While our flu vaccines are far from ideal, they are the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu, and it is not too late to get one".

So far, more than 151 million doses of vaccine have shipped, Fitzgerald said at the media briefing.

For more on the flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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