This Flu Season Is Breaking Records For Hospitalizations And Getting Worse On The East Coast


Health officials report 16 more children died of flu this week,
bringing the total for the season to 53.

Posted on February 02, 2018, 17:23 GMT

A dangerous
flu season is continuing across the US, federal health
officials reported on Friday, showing only the first signs of
decline in western states but growing stronger on the East
Coast.

As of Jan. 27, officials from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention said, the current influenza outbreak has lead to
the highest measured hospitalization rates for the virus, and
has killed 53 children nationwide, 16 in the most recently
reported week. The high hospitalizations are particularly
affecting people over 65.

“This is a very difficult flu season,” Acting CDC Director Anne
Schuchat said on a briefing for reporters. “We are not out of
the woods yet.”

The current flu outbreak, now in about the 10th week of high
activity, is a mixture of three strains of the flu bug: H3N2,
H1N1, and influenza B. While lab tests nationwide are showing a
decline in positive tests for H3N2 — the most most active
strain this season — they are also reporting increases in the
influenza B infections.

The flu vaccine is not working well against the most active
H3N2 strain due to a genetic mismatch between vaccine version
of the bug and its wild form. A Canadian estimate finds the
efficacy of the vaccine this season may only be 17%, below even
the estimate of 30% effectiveness for the US vaccine.

Nevertheless, Schuchat urged people to still get vaccinated,
noting a vaccinated people who get the flu typically have less
severe symptoms. Only 20% of the children who have died in the
current season were already vaccinated, she said.

She urged parents to remind children to wash their hands.
Children with difficult or rapid breathing or a high fever
should see a pediatrician. Particularly dangerous are cases in
which recovery is halted by resumption of symptoms, Schchat
warned, perhaps a sign of a dangerous secondary pneumonia.

In the past, flu seasons have lasted up to 20 weeks, the CDC’s
Dan Jernigan noted at the briefing. “We may have many more to
go,” he said, although he noted a decline in flu reports in
western states, hopefully the start of an end to the outbreak.

Schuchat took over as acting director of the CDC only this
week, following the resignation of CDC director Brenda
Fitzgerald over reports of investments in tobacco companies.

“Despite recent leadership changes, CDC remains committed to
our 24/7 mission of protecting the health and safety of the
American people,” Schuchat said at the beginning of the
briefing.



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