CDC: More Flu Hospitalizations Reported, Deaths Increasing


Although this year’s flu season appears to be an average one so far, more hospitalizations are being reported and deaths are increasing, federal health officials reported Friday.

And it will be several weeks before the season peaks, said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are starting to see cases of severe disease and we are seeing excess deaths, most likely due to influenza,” she said.

Even though deaths and hospitalizations are increasing, Brammer didn’t describe this year’s flu season as particularly severe. “It’s looking like an average influenza season,” she said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s still not too late to get a flu shot. That’s particularly important for the most vulnerable — the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women, officials said.

The CDC doesn’t track the number of adults who die from flu, but it does keep tabs on child deaths.

“Three more children died this week, bringing the total to eight so far, which compared with other flu seasons is pretty low,” Brammer said.

Last year, 128 children died from flu-related complications, according to the CDC.

The dominant flu strain continues to be H3N2, which often signals a severe season that affects the oldest and the youngest the hardest, Brammer said.

On the plus side, this year doesn’t seem as severe as most H3 years, she said.

H1N1 and B viruses are also circulating, Brammer said. “We probably haven’t seen H3N2 peak yet, and then it’s possible we will see a wave of H1N1 and influenza B before the season is over,” she added.

This year’s vaccine contains all the circulating viruses, she noted.

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SOURCE: HealthDay News
Steven Reinberg