Doctors and hospitals have not seen an outbreak like this year since the 2009 flu season. The CDC said not since that time when the A(H1N1) strain hit the country have they seen numbers as they have.
The numbers of deaths and hospitalizations could exceed those of the 2014-2015 season. Officials are concerned about the number of pediatric deaths.
Flu cases are not showing up in clusters but instead are across the country, affecting every state. The director of the flu division of the CDC, Dr. Dan Jernigan said two strains of flu are at work. H1N1 appears to be causing more hospital visits for people aged 50 to 64. Others are dealing with A(H3N2). The latter strain seems to be contributing to more severe illness according to Jernigan.
Flu Season Has Not Peaked Yet
He goes on to say that he believes much of the cause of the spreading of the infections is due to children returning to school after winter break. The breakout is so widespread that all 50 states except Hawaii are reporting epidemic type numbers. The Washington DC area and the Virgin Islands are the only places that appear to have missed the brunt of the season.
There have been 37 pediatric deaths, with seven of those deaths occurring for the week ending January 20. There could be more deaths as reporting has been slow. He said there would be more reports next week. During the 2014-2015 outbreak, 148 children died. Dr. Jernigan anticipates more children’s deaths.
Hospitals report that flu cases represent 7% of the emergency room or outpatient visits. Not since the 2009 pandemic have numbers been as high. That year visits were 7.7%.
Many thought by the end of January that the flu season would have peaked, but it hasn’t. Instead, it shows no signs of letting up.