Flu-like illness in United States reaches 2009 pandemic levels

Flu season image

"The previously recorded high for that was 7.6 percent for a non-pandemic year in 2003-2004", Schuchat said.

Overall nationwide, the flu is sickening patients at a rate the CDC has not seen since the deadly swine flu, or HN1N, epidemic nine years ago. Nationally, that rate has climbed well above 7 percent, a rate that experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said was last seen during the H1N1 swine flu epidemic of 2009.

Flu season began in October.

US health officials reported more bad news on Friday regarding the country's ongoing, deadly flu season: doctors across the country are seeing more cases, hospitalizations and deaths from flu, and there's no sign it's letting up. "Our virologists and others around the country are studying the virus to see whether there are other explanations for the more severe disease we're seeing".

We reached out to local hospitals for an update on trends.

'Corey (her father) and I both sat there literally bawling our eyes out holding each other and watching our daughter, ' she says. "For more information about where to get vaccinated, New Yorkers can call 311, visit nyc.gov/flu, or text "flu" to 877877".

The strain is not as common as the dominant H3N2 strain that has been ravaging the nation. The doctor encouraged people to get the flu shot if they have not and to stay home and rest if they become ill with the flu.

Last week, 43 states had high patient traffic for the flu, up from 42, the CDC reported. OR and Hawaii are the two exceptions.

The percentage of outpatient visits in the West for influenza-like illnesses as of February 9 is 5.11, compared to 4.01 percent for the week of February 2.

"This is a hard season, and we can't predict how much longer the severe season will last", Schuchat said. Symptoms from H3N2 often are more intense than with other strains, and people are more likely to suffer additional complications such as pneumonia and be hospitalized. It does not break down Tippecanoe County's numbers by age. "There have been far too many heart-wrenching stories in recent weeks about families who have lost loved ones to influenza". Wyoming typically records deaths from the flu each year, but the victims are usually adults. Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News medical correspondent, also expects a few more weeks of peak flu activity.

"We have good evidence that if you start taking antivirals within 48 hours of symptoms, you can lessen the severity of your illness", she said. Vaccination of children against the flu is a relatively new phenomenon that may help limit the pediatric toll, she said. Based on a recent Canadian report, the effectiveness against B strain viruses is estimated to be about 55%.

She recommended calling ahead to pharmacies to make sure a prescription can be filled.

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