After a headline-grabbing early start, influenza in the United States continues to spread steadily, with case counts continuing their pattern of doubling weekly.
So far this flu season, 23,000 people have been hospitalized, and 1,300 people have died from the flu, ABC News reported.
The flu’s impact on children is picking up, with three pediatric deaths reported by the CDC in the most recent week’s data report, bringing this flu season’s pediatric death total to five.
In the past week, 6,465 patients were admitted to hospitals with lab-confirmed flu cases, the CDC said in its weekly summary.
Not everyone who gets the flu is hospitalized. One way the CDC measures the flu’s impact is by tracking outpatient clinic visits nationwide for what it calls “respiratory illness,” which is defined as having a fever plus a cough or sore throat. Outpatient visits for “respiratory illness,” which can include other illnesses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in addition to flu, have skyrocketed this past week.
The CDC now lists 16 states or major metropolitan areas as having the highest possible label (“very high”) for outpatient respiratory illness visit levels. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and New York City.
The prior week, only four of those were listed as very high: Alabama, District of Columbia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The CDC recommends anyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine.
ABC News: “CDC warns of massive increase in flu infections, hospitalizations.”
CDC: “Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report,” “Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality.”