Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Deadly Flu Season In Full Swing, Up To 4000 Weekly Deaths Recorded

Deadly Flu Season In Full Swing, Up To 4000 Weekly Deaths Recorded

With the State Health Department now showing a spike in cases in the region and no signs that the season is over, it could result in more closures. OR and Hawaii, the exceptions, both recorded regional activity for the fifth week of the year. Nationwide influenza activity is at 7.7 percent, breaking the 2003-2004 non-pandemic year. More than 40,000 deaths were recorded and the numbers are still on the rise.

This year's unsafe flu season shows no sign of waning, and "may be on track to break some recent records".

The season has been dominated by the H3N2 flu strain, which usually is more virulent, but the virus itself doesn't seem to be much different from previous H3N2 strains.

"During this most recent week, 80 percent of the viruses reported by public health labs were influenza A, and 20 percent were influenza B", she observed. Scientists are studying circulating viruses to see whether anything unusual is going on, Schuchat said.

Overall, the data showed 14,094 new laboratory-confirmed cases of illness during the week ending February 3, bringing the season total to 151,983. However, since the end of December, ILI activity this season has continued to increase beyond those two prior seasons and is "now at the highest level that we've seen since the pandemic in 2009".

The prevalent flu strain is still the Influenza A or the H2N2 but the CDC also noted rising strains of Influenza B and H1NI virus. According to Schuchat, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza is 10.1% this week.

In Georgia, people are still getting sick at higher rates, though the death rate has fallen for the last few weeks after shooting upward at the start of the year.

It would make sense to see "a lot" of influenza deaths in the coming weeks, Schuchat said, based on the fact that many people are in the hospital.

"She's making all of this progress, but [doctors] keep telling us she is still very ill".

Epidemiologists and virus experts don't have an explanation yet for why the flu this season has been worse than usual, Schuchat said. "In recent weeks, the percent of specimens testing positive for influenza A has been decreasing, while the percent positive for influenza B viruses has continued to increase". The majority of the influenza viruses collected from the United States during October 1, 2017 through February 3, 2018 were characterized antigenically and genetically as being similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2017-18 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine viruses. The CDC is working with pharmacies, drug producers and others to better distribute the medicines and alleviate spot shortages.

"The commercial supply is there", she said so dipping into the strategic national stockpile is not necessary.

Like this: