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Flu season may not have peaked, and there's another wave of severe infections underway, CDC says

Flu activity remains high across the nation, and there's a second wave of severe infections striking some states.There were as many as...

Posted: Mar 11, 2019 4:11 PM

Flu activity remains high across the nation, and there's a second wave of severe infections striking some states.

There were as many as 26.3 million flu illnesses, 12.4 million medical visits and 347,000 flu hospitalizations between October 1 and March 2, according to the weekly flu report released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We're still having flu. And we're still seeing a steady stream of patients who are being admitted to hospital with influenza," said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Nine additional children died of flu-related causes during the week ending March 2, bringing the total to 64 for the season. However, not all flu-related deaths are detected or reported, so the CDC believes the actual number of deaths to be higher.

For adults, flu deaths are estimated based on pneumonia and other illnesses related to flu. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and flu during the week ending February 23 was 7.5%, slightly higher than the usual threshold of 7.3% for this time of year, the CDC said, based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

It's unclear whether the season has peaked, but there are still weeks of flu activity to come this season, with 48 states and Puerto Rico reporting widespread activity.

The CDC also recorded about 37 hospitalizations per every 100,000 people during the week ending March 2. This is the overall rate, with a higher proportion of people who are 65 and older requiring hospitalization (107 per every 100,000), followed by children up to age 4 (49 per every 100,000) and then people between the ages of 50 and 64 (48 per 100,000).

Hospitalization rates are a lot lower than last season, the CDC said.

The H1N1 virus strain has dominated this season, but H3 viruses have been circulating in the Southeast, according to Schaffner. It's been a "double-barreled influenza outbreak this year," he said, with H1N1 seen throughout most of the country and two waves of H3N2 infections in the southeastern United States. H3N2 viruses account for about two-thirds of influenza A viruses tested this past week, according to the CDC.

"H3N2, in general, produces more severe disease," he said. "That was the virus that was causing so much trouble last year."

"All of these viruses, but particularly H3N2, have a tendency to try to put you in the hospital and set you up for a secondary case of pneumonia."

Everyone 6 months or older should get vaccinated against the flu, the CDC advises. People over 65, children under 2 and individuals with medical conditions should also get a pneumococcal vaccination to prevent pneumonia.

"If you become sick, please call your health care provider, because they may well provide a prescription for antiviral drugs that can help reduce the severity and duration of your illness," Schaffner said. Common antivirals include Tamiflu and Xofluza.

Although the CDC continues to recommend getting a flu shot, Schaffner noted that it is "awfully late" in the season, because it takes 10 days to two weeks after getting the shot for your body to develop immunity. Still, as long as flu is circulating in the area where you live, it is not too late to get vaccinated. He also advises his patients to "remember to get it this fall in preparation for the next flu season."

"Although it's not perfect, it still prevents many, many infections, and even if you should get influenza despite having received the vaccine, it tends to make a less severe infection. You are certainly less likely to get the complications of pneumonia, having to be hospitalized and dying," Schaffner said.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 404006

Reported Deaths: 32427
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City21998223353
Nassau424622191
Suffolk422671993
Westchester353941436
Rockland13743670
Orange10878484
Erie7891646
Dutchess4337152
Monroe4281277
Onondaga3203191
Albany2280121
Ulster188888
Oneida1860104
Sullivan146748
Putnam138263
Niagara135694
Schenectady89137
Broome85260
Rensselaer63230
Saratoga62317
Columbia48937
Madison37617
Ontario31233
Orleans28854
Warren28433
Steuben27941
Greene27118
Fulton26624
Genesee2545
Washington25014
St. Lawrence2342
Oswego2263
Wayne2213
Tompkins1980
Herkimer1974
Chautauqua1867
Chenango1756
Tioga16324
Chemung1512
Livingston1518
Cattaraugus1416
Montgomery1414
Cayuga1282
Clinton1114
Wyoming1035
Jefferson1000
Delaware924
Otsego915
Seneca760
Allegany691
Schoharie620
Cortland610
Essex510
Yates506
Franklin370
Lewis320
Schuyler150
Hamilton60
Unassigned00
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