CDC: Flu Hammering Country, With More to Come

Eastern Health

Eastern Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that this year's vaccine is only about 30 percent effective.

According to Dr Jernigan, the flu is not expected to be as devastating to the U.S. as it was to Australia, where vaccination rates are lower and the general population is older.

"We're only midway through the flu season this year, we will probably see a change in those numbers", said Hokanson.

The latest data - for the week ending January 6 - suggest the season may be peaking right now, the CDC's director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, told reporters Friday.

Seven children died from the flu in the United States last week, bringing the total pediatric flu deaths reported to the CDC this season up to 20.

'It's like a MASH unit, ' said Dr. Ed Hirsch, the hospital's chief medical officer. Hurricane Maria knocked out production of the bags by a major manufacturer in Puerto Rico.

The Department of Public Health says flu activity in Kentucky is "widespread" for the fourth consecutive week. The agency has been in regular contact with manufacturers, and while the national supply should be sufficient to meet demand, some manufacturers are reporting delays in filling orders, Jernigan said.

"When you're dealing with something like that, you don't want it to spread", Bowman said. "Pregnant women and children under 12 years old are strongly advised not to visit the hospital during this flu alert".

Much of this season's concern can be traced to Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, which struggled with a severe flu strain called H3N2.

Flu outbreaks in the state's long-term care facilities increased last week as well, but outbreaks of influenza-like illness in schools remained sporadic - with many schools closed for the holiday break. Unfortunately, that's about on par for the flu shot's H3N2 component, which is the weak link of flu vaccine. But the overall hospitalization rate then was even higher, nearly 30 per 100,000 people for the same time frame.

Hacker did not release additional details about the individuals, except to say that the underlying conditions included heart and lung disease and diabetes.

The majority of cases continue to be the H3N2 subtype of Influenza A, a particularly brutal strain that tends to cause more severe illness, particularly among the elderly and children. What is unique about the current season is the fact that a B virus is also doing the rounds. It's your best chance of preventing the flu.

With flu-like illness on the rise, it's not too late for everyone 6 months old and older to get vaccinated.

"It still means we have a lot more flu to go", said Jernigan, director of the CDC's Influenza Division at the NCIRD.

Haggie says the flu vaccine is provided by the federal government, so there's really nothing the province can do to help with the effectiveness of the vaccine. So if H3N2 was included in the flu shot, why is it still making people sick?

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