Flu season still getting worse; now as bad as 2009 swine flu

One Child Dead from Influenza

There were 40,414 deaths in the U.S. during the third week of 2018, the most recent data available, and 4064 were from pneumonia or influenza, according to the CDC data.

"We may be on track to reach or even exceed that level", warns Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control.

"The flu is incredibly hard to predict, and we don't know if we've hit the peak yet".

Since 2007, the earliest year of available state data, MA has seen higher rates of reports of flu-like illnesses during only one other stretch: the height of the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Middle-aged people are being stricken at almost twice the rate seen in 2014-15, although health officials aren't sure why.

A particular strain of the flu is injected into fertilized eggs, incubated and harvested.

"Influenza is a serious respiratory infection and the flu season is not over", Mercer said.

Flu activity is still on the rise in the USA, government officials said Friday, with several weeks left to go in the flu season.

As of February 3, a total of 48 states continued to experience widespread flu activity, according to the CDC's latest surveillance report. The illness is widespread in all states but Hawaii and Oregon.

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This season has also seen the highest flu hospitalization rate since 2010, according to a KSDK report.

This week alone there have been an additional 10 pediatric deaths, bringing the total number of children killed by the flu to 63.

"It's a wake-up call about how severe influenza can be and how we can never let up our guard about this virus because it's always changing", Schuchat said. This week's data showed outpatient visits for influenza-like illness comprised 7.7% of all visits - up from 7.1% in last week's data.

This year's flu is also of a nastier caliber and has put more people in the hospital than usual.

Health experts in the US will use data from Australia and other parts of the world to piece together information to develop the best vaccine for a particular flu season. This year's dominant strain of influenza A H3N2, does not appear to be different than one that has been circulating in previous seasons but it is being closely studied by virologists for any clues as to why it might be more virulent, Schuchat said. "It's common for there to be dips and then more cases when we see a new subtype", she said. There are other methods out there-one uses an insect virus grown in caterpillar cells, according to NBC News-but the industry overall has yet to shift from the egg-based approach. "Our virologists and others around the country are studying the virus to see whether there are other explanations for the more severe disease we're seeing". At this point, she said if you suspect flu, you're likely correct. Influenza B strains and influenza A H1N1 are still increasing, though.

Despite the severity of the season, the American Lung Association says there are things you can do to avoid being stricken by the virus.

This year's flu could be more calamitous than outbreaks going back decades, but there's no way to know for sure. Some Local clinics are running short of flu vaccines.

There are a number of ways people can protect themselves and others. Everyone 6 months or older should get flu shots. And some protection is better than none.

Tompkins County, similar to statewide trends, is seeing an increase in flu this season, the press release said. It's unknown if those victims had gotten a flu shot or not. "If it looks like flu, treat it", said Schuchat.

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