T

he entire continental United States is experiencing widespread flu right now, the first time in the 13 years of the current tracking system that that has happened, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials said that this flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent years.

The rate of flu hospitalizations — the number of people hospitalized with flu per 100,000 — rose sharply last week compared with the previous week. Last week it was 22.7 per 100,000 people; the week before that rate was 13.7.

advertisement

At the peak of the 2014-15 season, one of the two most severe seasons in the last 15 years or so, 29.9 people out of every 100,000 were hospitalized for flu.

Newsletters

Sign up for our Daily Recap newsletter

Please enter a valid email address.

The latest data — for the week ending Jan. 6 — suggest the season may be peaking right now, the CDC’s director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, told reporters Friday. But she warned that many more people will be infected before the season is over.

There’s a difference between an active flu season — when a large number of people get sick — and a severe season, when the numbers of people hospitalized for flu or who die from the infection are unusually high.

It can be hard to tell in real time where a flu season will fall on the severity scale, because sometimes reports of influenza hospitalization and deaths — especially deaths among children — lag.

That said, this year is starting to look like a severe season, and maybe more severe than last year, which was also bad, said Dr. Dan Jernigan, head of CDC’s influenza division.

“There’s lots of flu in lots of places,” he said.

So far, Jernigan said, this year’s season doesn’t appear to be quite as bad as 2014-15.

The influenza A virus H3N2 has caused the lion’s share of the illness in most parts of the country this year.

But recently there’s been an uptick in activity by another influenza A virus, H1N1, Jernigan said, warning that even if the season appears to have peaked, flu viruses will circulate for weeks to come and people should continue to take precautions against getting infected.

Jernigan said that people over the age of 65 are being hospitalized for flu this season more than any other population. Even people age 50 to 64 are being hospitalized in high numbers.

Flu often hits the ends of the age spectrum more than the middle, and that’s the case this year as well. The CDC reported seven more children have died from flu, bringing the season total to 20 so far. While tragic, that number is low in comparison with other years — 110 last year, 92 in 2015-2016. But if other seasons are a gauge, that grim tally may continue to rise in coming weeks.

Officials feared that the flu vaccine may not work particularly well this season, but it appears to be faring slightly better than expected.

Preliminary testing by the CDC suggests the vaccine is probably more protective than it was in Australia during its 2017 winter. The Australian interim estimate suggested the H3N2 component of the vaccine — and H3N2 was the main virus there during their most recent winter — was only about 10 percent effective.

That means if 100 people got the flu shot and all were exposed to H3N2 viruses, only 10 would have been protected.

Jernigan said it looks more like the H3N2 portion of the vaccine is performing here like it did last year, when it was 34 percent effective at preventing infection. Unfortunately, that’s about on par for the flu shot’s H3N2 component, which is the weak link of flu vaccine.

The CDC should have interim data on the question of the vaccine’s effectiveness in the second half of February.

  • Why so much flu when getting a shot is made so easy. Schools, local drug stores offer no waiting, low cost.Wife and I havn’t had a flu shot in over 20 years and we are seldom sick. I have noticed that compared to 80 years ago, we presently have a cancer epidemic and life expectancy has fallen again, here in U.S.

    • thats because only 46% of all Americans get the flu shot. The rest opt out. Then considering its only 34% effective…. there ya go.

    • New England Journal of Medicine just released finding that current flu shot is 10% or less effective. As similar findings from several sources confirm. Lifestyle is #1 issue with health in US. Can’t see how flu shot prevents poor living habits.

  • Severe mental illness? There seems to be a lot of that going around lately in half the country. Symptoms are resistance to tax cuts, severe allergy to getting extra money, severe allergy to a booming economy and tons of jobs, freakin’ out when a Republican tells the truth and complete ignorance when a former secretary of state steals billions in aid money to Haiti.

  • You are obviously a liberal, easily cowed by every scare tactic that Democrats and the mainstream media throw at you. Try thinking for yourself, and recognize that people are using your fears to control you.

  • Am told vitamin D is very effective, (better than shot) and if you get the flu elderberry as effective as Tamiflu for relief w/o side effects. I haven’t verified but info comes from a reliable source.

  • “That means if 100 people got the flu shot and all were exposed to H3N2 viruses, only 10 would have been protected.”

    Or…
    that means if 100 people got the flu shot, 90 of them became so weak from vaccine ingredients they “caught” flu, while only 10 people had immune systems strong enough to resist flu viruses and overcome these toxic vaccine ingredients and all their other unrelated viruses which are too small to filter out.

    • FYI:
      -No. 3 cause of death in USA is US Healthcare system, and they admit its due to “mistakes”.
      -No. 4 cause of death in USA is “side-effects” from properly prescribed and used Pharma drugs, and this does not include opiates or other drug abuses.
      Some would call it population control, just like Planned Parenthood used to be called American Birth Control League. Some are better at hiding their murders than others, and some even get paid to kill.
      So, don’t forget your vaccinations. Get your flu shot, today!

    • Yes ..I used to work in a hospital and put incident reports into the records …believe me you want to avoid a hospital if you can …and if not question everything and if possible have a family member with you as much as possible.

  • Everyone should read for himself, but I think truly adequate “vitamin” D3 helps to protect one from flu.

  • Simple natural way to avoid it: consistently eat a Whole Foods plant based diet, exercise, and use colloidal silver / soverne silver as necessary. Pretty smple, really.

  • One of the consequences of allowing millions of illiterate foreign peasants to pour into our cities and neighborhoods.

Comments are closed.

Sign up for our Morning Rounds newsletter

Your daily dose of what’s new in health and medicine.