United States flu outbreak worsens; 20 reported fatalities in NH

Worsening Flu Season Has Many Afraid, Grieving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday reported 42 states had heavy flu-related patient traffic last week, up from 39 the week before.

Levels of illness, based on outpatient visits and visits to emergency rooms, are "now as high as we observed at the peak of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic season", Schuchat said.

Another 10 children were reported to have died of the flu in the week ending February 3, bringing the total infant mortality so far this season to 63, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's acting director, told reporters.

"I wish there were better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Schuchat said.

Although deaths among children - at 63 kids - and adults have not been extremely high, it is possible they could increase in line with hospitalization rates, she said. The vaccine may also reduce the severity of symptoms if you catch the flu despite getting vaccinated.

Schuchat said the nation is now in the eleventh week of the 2017-2018 flu season, and almost all states remain rife with the virus, except for OR and Hawaii.

The H3N2 is especially prevalent among children, according to Dr Schuchat.

However, the stories of otherwise healthy people dying from the virus are really shocking and frightening. The majority of deaths have been adults over age 65.

During the 2016-17 season, when the same strain was predominant, 47 influenza-related deaths were reported in New Hampshire, including two involving children. The CDC considers the 2014-15 season "moderately severe" with high levels of illness, hospitalizations and deaths compared with previous seasons and has used it as a comparison to the current season. The CDC does not require national reporting of flu deaths in adults. Previous outbreaks had lasted between 11 and 20 weeks, and the current outbreak was in its 11th week, she said.

The virus causing the most illness has been around for decades.

'Some protection is better than none, ' Dr Schuchat said.

'The flu is incredibly hard to predict and we don't know if we've hit the peak yet, ' Dr Schuchat said. These numbers do not include all the people who have had the flu, as many do not see a doctor when sick.

"We recognize that this issue is personal to so many families and that there is a lot of fear and alarm", she said. She urged parents who see signs of worsening illness in a child - such as difficulty breathing or a fever that goes away, then returns - to seek immediate medical care.

"There might be a second wave of influenza B infections", she said.

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