Panic for almost every state as experts warn that the virus has killed more than 30 children and the number of deaths has risen by 65% in the new year
- New figures from the CDC show that 9.7 million people have fallen ill and 87,000 have been hospitalized
- 4,800 people have died since 1 January, an increase of 65%
- So far, 32 pediatric deaths have been confirmed, twice the number of deaths among children at this time of year last flu season
Flu activity is widespread in just about every US state and the death rate is nearly double that of last year, federal health officials say.
To date, around 9.7 million people have fallen ill and 87,000 have been hospitalized, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Friday.
About 4,800 people have died, a 65 percent increase since the new year started.
The number of deaths among children is double what they were at the moment last year, 32 from Monday compared to 16 in mid-January 2019.
Experts say that this is further evidence that the 2019-2020 flu season is on schedule as one of the worst seasons in the recent recollection.
New CDC figures show that 87,000 people have been hospitalized and about 4,800 people have died from the flu, a 65 percent increase since 2020 (file image)
Last season, the flu caused between 37.4 million and 42.9 million illnesses and between 36,400 and 61,200 deaths, according to preliminary data from the CDC.
But the 2019-2020 flu season began earlier than the annual epidemic in the last 10 years and is rapidly circulating.
“Last year marked the longest flu season in a decade, and now we are seeing the flu season this year start alarmingly,” said Rep Diana DeGette (D-CO), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations panel.
Health officials say that influenza B is more prevalent this season than influenza A and is responsible for 21 out of 32 pediatric deaths.
Panic has spread like frightening reports about how hard the flu is affecting the youngest Americans in particular.
A four-year-old girl in Iowa was left blind last week after a major flu attack.
Earlier today, a child in Wisconsin under the age of 10 died on the way to the hospital, the Associated Press reported.
It is not immediately clear whether the Wisconsin child received the flu vaccine, but not the four-year-old girl from Iowa.
Death in Wisconsin has not yet been confirmed by the CDC, but if this is the case, it will be the 33rd infant mortality this season.
Doctors emphasize to the public that the best way to protect yourself and your family is to get a flu shot.
The CDC recommends getting the vaccine in the form of an injection or nasal spray. For those who choose to go with the injectable, there are two options.
First is the trivalent vaccine, which protects against two influenza A strains, H1N1 and H3N2, and one influenza B strain.
Second, it is quadrivalent flu vaccine, protecting against the same strains as the trivalent vaccine, as well as an additional influenza B virus.
The nasal spray, FluMist, uses live, attenuated viruses designed to help the body recognize and ward off flu strains if you become infected.
The only group of people who are not eligible for the vaccine – shot and spray – are babies younger than six months old.
Doctors say taking preventive measures at home is just as important as getting the vaccine, such as washing your hands, not touching your face, coughing in your elbow or tissue and staying home when you are sick.