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Flu outbreak has killed at least 63 children, say CDC officials
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday that 10 more children died last week from the flu, and there is no sign of let up.
This brings the total number of children who died this season to at least 63, making this one of the worst nationwide flu epidemics on record.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC, said that with the exception of Oregon and Hawaii, the epidemic remains active throughout all states in the country. Of particular concern is the H3N2 flu strain, which is infecting the most people.
“I wish there was better news this week, but almost everything we’re looking at is bad news,” Schuchat said at a news conference, according to ABC News.
She added that the United States is in its 11th week of the 2017-2018 flu season. Seasons generally run 11 to 20 weeks and she doesn’t see it ending any time soon.
“It’s difficult to predict, and we don’t know,” Schuchat said.
Elevated flu infection rates
Outpatient and emergency room visits remain high with flu cases, and the rate of hospitalizations is at the highest since the CDC began tracking the flu 10 years ago, she said.
The CDC weekly influenza report shows that 17,101 laboratory-confirmed cases have led to hospitalizations between Oct. 1, 2017, and Feb. 3.
Flu infection rates are rising higher than those in any year since 2009, when the swine flu pandemic hit the country, according to the CDC. Flu cases are on track to surpass the 2014-2015 season, the worst on record when 710,000 people were hospitalized in the United States and 148 children died.
Hospitalization rates during the current flu season have surpassed even those of the particularly severe season of the winter of 2014-2015, Fox News reported.
“We recognize that this issue is personal to so many families and that there is a lot of fear and alarm,” Schuchat said. “Flu is incredibly difficult to predict, and we don’t know if we’ve hit a peak. We could see more weeks of increased flu activity.”
Although the flu shot is not as effective against the H3N2 strain, Schuchat nonetheless urged Americans to get vaccinated and said it’s not too late.
The shot works against other strains of influenza, such as Influenza B and H1N1, both of which are gathering steam as H3N2 is on the decline.
The CDC also urged Americans aged 65 or older to get a vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia.
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