CDC - Flu season to get worse with weeks of suffering ahead


The peak of the flu season could still be several weeks away, federal health officials cautioned Friday.

"We may be on track to reach or even exceed that level", warns Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the department's most recent report that number increased to nearly 7 percent in late January.

Last week, 43 states had high patient traffic for the flu, up from 42, the CDC reported.

Flu activity continues to increase in the state, as experts say there are many more weeks ahead of us.

The CDC said the amount of suspected flu cases at doctor's offices and hospital emergency rooms last week matched that seen in 2009, when a new swine flu pandemic swept the world.

Two other strains are on the rise, however, and they generally cause milder symptoms.

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The flu has further tightened its grip on the U.S. This season is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago.

Lab testing data shows a classic pattern of A strains of influenza causing the most infections, but B strains gradually emerging later in the season.

As with the previous week, 48 states reported widespread ILI activity, with only OR and Hawaii reporting regional activity.

Flu season is showing no sign of slowing down, and parts of the country may be experiencing a second wave of illness. In past seasons such as this, she said, an estimated 34 million Americans got the flu.

Thirty-one (31) new flu deaths were reported this week, according to the Indiana State Department of Health's weekly release on the state of the influenza virus. The highest rate of hospitalization has been among adults aged 65 and older (263.6 per 100,000 population), followed by adults aged 50-64 (63.1 per 100,000 population) and children aged 4 and under (40 per 100,000 population).

National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci discussed ongoing research to develop more effective seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines, including a universal flu vaccine.

Albertson said she got a flu shot, Jossi did not. 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. They're also more likely to be blocked by the flu vaccine. Scientists are studying circulating viruses to see if anything unusual is going on, Schuchat said. The CDC is working with pharmacies, drug producers, and others to better distribute the medicines and alleviate spot shortages.