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U.S. flu outbreak worsens, likely to linger for weeks: CDC

10 February 2018, 01:42 | Rodolfo Wallace

Dallas County is offering free flu shots for adults who do not have health insurance

Dallas County is offering free flu shots for adults who do not have health insurance

The flu season is now in its 11th week, and it is sometimes hard to determine when it has reached its peak. "Facilities that are experiencing high rates of flu should ensure that they are cleaning and disinfecting regularly and that ill individuals are isolated to help prevent additional cases of the flu".

"Overall, hospitalizations are significantly higher than what we've seen [in the past] for this time of year", Schuchat said.

Middle-aged people are being stricken at almost twice the rate seen in 2014-15, although health officials aren't sure why. But it is a signal of how very intense the flu season has been. "If it looks like flu, treat it", said Schuchat.

During a press briefing today, CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD, RADM, USPHS, said 48 states are now experiencing widespread influenza activity with OR and Hawaii indicating regional flu activity.

The virus is still widespread in 48 states, bar Hawaii and OR, which dropped down to regional level last week.

Flu-linked hospitalization rates continue to rise - from 51.5 per 100,000 people for the week ending January 27 to 59.9 per 100,000 people for the week ending February 3.

Another 2,349 New Yorkers with the flu were hospitalized, the highest weekly number since the state began keeping records in 2004.

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Children, the elderly, pregnant women and people whose immune systems are compromised are especially susceptible to the flu.

Among adults, the proportion of pneumonia- and influenza-related deaths climbed to 10.1% of all deaths reported during the week ending January 20 (these data are always two weeks delayed). The CDC said there is no evidence of antigenic drift in this year's H3N2 strain, and the explanation for this year's particularly high case numbers is still unknown.

The records she's referring to have to do with the growing levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) and hospitalizations.

"In 2014-15, that number was 35.1 per 1,000". "It's a little too early to say we're out of the woods or to say that flu is abating".

Schuchat said that while this year's virus "isn't new in terms of antigenic drift", virologists are studying it to see if there are "other explanations for the more severe disease we're seeing".

The HHS is planning to continue efforts to prepare for and combat outbreaks of pandemic flu strains, including H7N9, according to the briefing. "It's really the question of where will we be at the end of the year?" Dr. Schuchat addressed the ongoing concerns regarding the effectiveness of the current seasonal flu vaccine in a simple, straightforward way: "Some protection is better than none". The Health Department is urging residents to get their flu shot to slow down and stop the spread of the flu virus.



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