Tuesday June 18, 2019

CDC Says Flu Makes Up To 84000 Americans Hospitalized in Three Months

The CDC last month signaled the start of the flu season, saying that 24 states and Guam were reporting widespread cases, with the H1N1 virus being the predominant strain.

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Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., Jan.18, 2018. (VOA)

An estimated 69,000 to 84,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in the last three months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.

The nation saw one of the worst flu outbreaks in nearly a decade during the 2017-2018 season, with more than 900,000 cases of hospitalizations and over 80,000 deaths, the CDC estimates.

Between Oct. 1, 2018 and Jan. 5, 2019, about 6 million to 7 million people were reported to have contracted the flu, according to data collected by the health agency.

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Representational image. Pixabay

Health regulators have been trying to combat flu outbreaks in the United States and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first new flu medication in nearly two decades last year.

The CDC last month signaled the start of the flu season, saying that 24 states and Guam were reporting widespread cases, with the H1N1 virus being the predominant strain.

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The dominant flu strain during the last season, H3N2, has been linked with severe disease and death, particularly among children and the elderly.

The agency continues to recommend vaccination as the best way to reduce the risk of flu and advised people who are at high risk category to approach hospital for treatment with a flu antiviral drug. (VOA)

Next Story

Two-Wave U.S. Flu Season is Now the Longest in Ten Years

Still, this flu season is not nearly as bad as last winter's 19-week season, the deadliest in at least four decades. An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last season.

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Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., Jan.18, 2018. VOA

Three months ago, this flu season was shaping up to be short and mild in the U.S. But a surprising second viral wave has made it the longest in 10 years.

This flu season has been officially going for 21 weeks, according to reports collected through last week and released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes it among the longest seen since the government started tracking flu season duration more than 20 years ago.

Some experts likened the unusual double waves to having two different flu seasons compressed, back-to-back, into one.

“I don’t remember a season like this,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan researcher who had been studying respiratory illnesses for more than 50 years.

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Still, this flu season is not nearly as bad as last winter’s 19-week season, the deadliest in at least four decades. An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last season. VOA

The previous longest recent flu season was 20 weeks, which occurred in 2014-2015.

Flu can cause a miserable, relatively mild illness in many people and a more severe illness in others. Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk from flu and its complications. Flu vaccinations are recommended annually for all but the very young.

The current season began the week of Thanksgiving, a typical start time. At the beginning, most illnesses were caused by a flu strain that tends not to cause as many hospitalizations and which is more easily controlled by vaccines.

But in mid-February, a nastier strain started causing more illnesses and driving up hospitalizations.

Not helping matters: The harsher bug is not well matched to the vaccine, said the CDC’s Lynnette Brammer, who oversees flu tracking.

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Some experts likened the unusual double waves to having two different flu seasons compressed, back-to-back, into one. Pixabay

Still, this flu season is not nearly as bad as last winter’s 19-week season, the deadliest in at least four decades. An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last season.

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The CDC is estimating that flu-related deaths this season in the range of 35,000 to 55,000.

More good news: Brammer said that although the virus is notoriously unpredictable, signs suggest this flu season should be over soon.

“It’s on the verge” of being over, she said. “If nothing changes.” (VOA)