Flu Hospitalizations, Deaths Increasing: CDC

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Even though this year’s flu season appears to be an typical one particular so far, much more hospitalizations are getting reported and deaths are escalating, federal health officials reported Friday.

And it will be numerous weeks just before the season peaks, said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Illness Control and Prevention.

“We are beginning to see situations of severe illness and we are seeing excess deaths, most likely due to influenza,” she said.

Even though deaths and hospitalizations are rising, Brammer did not describe this year’s flu season as particularly serious. “It’s looking like an typical influenza season,” she said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Manage and Prevention says it is nevertheless not too late to get a flu shot. That’s especially critical for the most vulnerable — the extremely young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant girls, officials said.

The CDC doesn’t track the quantity of adults who die from flu, but it does maintain tabs on child deaths.

“Three more youngsters died this week, bringing the total to eight so far, which compared with other flu seasons is fairly low,” Brammer mentioned.

Final year, 128 children died from flu-related complications, according to the CDC.

The dominant flu strain continues to be H3N2, which usually signals a severe season that affects the oldest and the youngest the hardest, Brammer stated.

On the plus side, this year doesn’t look as severe as most H3 years, she said.

H1N1 and B viruses are also circulating, Brammer stated. “We probably have not seen H3N2 peak yet, and then it’s attainable we will see a wave of H1N1 and influenza B before the season is over,” she added.

This year’s vaccine contains all the circulating viruses, she noted.

The CDC recommends that any individual aged 6 months and older get a flu shot. Apart from the elderly and the chronically ill, pregnant girls are also a higher-risk group.

Also, mothers of newborns want a flu shot to support defend their infants, who can’t be vaccinated till they’re six months old.

For individuals aged 65 and older, the extra-strength vaccine is a very good thought, Brammer said.

Most years, the vaccine is in between 40 percent and 60 % efficient, according to the CDC.

If you do get sick, there are antiviral drugs that can help. Tamiflu and Relenza are efficient if taken early.

In a standard flu season, flu complications — which includes pneumonia — send more than 200,000 Americans to the hospital. Death rates fluctuate annually, but have gone as high as 49,000 in a year, according to the CDC.

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Source: Lynnette Brammer, M.P.H., epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Illness Handle and Prevention

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