Flu still on the rise, hospitalizations high, CDC says

Friday, February 9, 2018
By Paul Martin

By Susan Scutti
February 9, 2018

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.

That’s higher than last week, when the rate was 51 per every 100,000, and also higher than during the fifth week of the 2014-15 season, which recorded about 44 people hospitalized per 100,000. The CDC considers the 2014-15 season “moderately severe” with high levels of illness, hospitalizations and deaths compared to previous seasons and has used it as a comparison to the current season.

Ten additional flu-related deaths were reported in children as of the week ending February 3, bringing the total number of children who have died of flu-related causes to 63 for the season, which began in October.

“We were hoping to have better news to share this week,” acting CDC Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said.

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.

Caused by viruses, flu is a contagious respiratory illness with mild to severe symptoms that can sometimes lead to death. Circulating flu strains this season are a mix of H3N2, H1N1 and B viruses. Nordlund said. Anytime H3N2 strains are dominant, as they are now, “we tend to see more severe disease more hospitalizations, more deaths.”
“There might be a second wave of influenza B infections,” she said. “It’s a little too early to say we’re out of the woods or to say that flu is abating. We are waiting week to week to see what activity looks like.”

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