Flu is now sickening and hospitalizing Americans at rates not seen in almost a decade, and the season is still getting worse, federal health officials said Friday.
The number of people hospitalized for flu-like illnesses is the highest the CDC has seen since starting its current tracking system in 2010.
This year's flu season has now reached a level that we haven't seen since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and we haven't yet reached the peak.
Cases of influenza-like activity also continued to increase, with 7.7 percent of patient visits related to flu-like illness during the week ending February 3, up from 7.2 percent of visits the previous week.
In addition to the high ILI, Schuchat said the CDC received notification of 10 new pediatric deaths, raising the total this season to 63. The number of states reporting high flu activity rose by 1, from 42 to 43.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has reported 513 cases and 11 deaths this flu season. The agency does not keep an exact count of adult flu deaths, but closely tracks child deaths.
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What continues to be be notable about this season in particular is the cumulative hospitalization rate among older adults ages 50-64 (63.1 per 100,000 compared to 35.1 per 100,000 in 2014-2015, CDC researchers said) and the rate of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness.
She said: "Influenza A/H3 influenza viruses are known to be associated with higher morbidity and mortality than H1 and B viruses; and during H3 predominant seasons, we see increases in disease burden [the impact of a health problem as measured by financial cost, mortality and other indicators]".
"It's not uncommon for B strains to increase later in the season", Schuchat said. However, the CDC said vaccination can help lower the severity of H3N2 infections.
The Centers for Disease Control says the flu is widespread in Vermont which means there have been outbreaks in at least half the regions in the state.
The only possible good news, Schuchat said, was that the nation is seeing rising cases of influenza B. While influenza A strains still accounted for 73.3% of all samples tested, influenza B accounted for 26.7%, up from 19.8% in last week's report. Schuchat said those groups needn't wait for laboratory confirmation before being treated with an antiviral drug. Among them were for six flu-related child deaths in New York City.
"Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, weakness, aches and pains", Edelman said in a lung association news release. The flu shot will remain effective for roughly six months.
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