CDC update on widespread influenza activity

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Although the current rates do not mean we're having a pandemic, she said, this is "a signal of how very intense this season has been".

That was the sobering assessment offered Friday by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat.

"There is a lot of fear and alarm about this flu season", Schuchat said.

For the past five years, the flu season has lasted between 11 and 20 weeks, she said.

According to the most recent CDC report, the flu is still widespread across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a grim report on Friday, revealing that at least 63 children have died from influenza for the 2017-2018 season so far. In Oregon and Hawaii, flu is occurring at a more limited regional level, rather than statewide.

Overall, the data showed 14,094 new laboratory-confirmed cases of illness during the week ending February 3, bringing the season total to 151,983. Schuchat noted that overall hospitalizations are now significantly higher than what has been seen for this time of year since CDC's current tracking system began almost a decade ago in 2010, and "the rate is approaching the final rate of hospitalizations that we observed at the end of the active 2014-2015 flu season".

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The dominant flu strain this season, influenza A (H3N2), is especially potent, linked with severe disease and death, particularly among children and the elderly. "The influenza season is far from over, and it is not too late to get the flu shot".

"The previously recorded high for that was 7.6 percent for a non-pandemic year in 2003-2004", Schuchat said. The CDC does not require national reporting of flu deaths in adults.

"In 2014-15, that number was 35.1 per 1,000".

Even though the flu vaccine has low effectiveness against H3N2 viruses, it is more effective against other flu viruses, Schuchat said. "This years' virus isn't new in terms of antigenic risk". Scientists are studying circulating viruses to see whether anything unusual is going on, Schuchat said.

In the most recent week data were available, 10% of deaths in the nation were from influenza and pneumonia.

Although most flu-related deaths are among the older demographics, a vast majority of flu cases are among younger Hoosiers. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, told HealthDay.

In addition, Rite Aid pharmacists are available to counsel customers on over-the-counter medicines, like pain relievers, cough and cold medicines and hydration products that can be used to help manage symptoms associated with the flu. These numbers do not include all the people who have had the flu, as many do not see a doctor when sick.

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