CDC warns flu season may not have peaked

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Ten additional flu-related deaths were reported as of the week ending February 3, bringing the total number of children who have died of flu-related causes to 63 for the season, which began in October. "We could potentially see several more weeks of increased flu activity".

The latest FluView data found that flu-related deaths rose to 10.1% - far above the epidemic threshold figure of 7.3%.

Outpatient and emergency room visits remain high with flu cases, and the rate of hospitalizations is at the highest since the CDC began tracking the flu 10 years ago, she said.

Her husband Greg said that his wife was diagnosed with influenza Type B a month after fighting off influenza Type A
Her husband Greg said that his wife was diagnosed with influenza Type B a month after fighting off influenza Type A

This flu season is now more than 11 weeks old and the average flu season lasts 16 weeks.

At this point in the flu season, she said, the United States is at the level of the highest peak of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and is rapidly approaching the final rate of the highly-active 2014-2015 season. That ties the highest level seen in the US during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Schuchat noted that while influenza A (H3N2) remains the predominant strain, influenza B viruses are comprising about 30% of viruses reported in this week's data.

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"Flu is incredibly hard to predict, and we don't know if we have hit the peak yet", she said, noting that 59.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the population have been for the flu so far this year. The CDC does not require national reporting of flu deaths in adults.

"So many states have high activity at the same time", Schuchat said, during the briefing.

Another measure is the percentage of deaths attributed to flu or pneumonia, which often accompanies influenza. It's a particularly severe strain that isn't easily stopped by the current vaccine.

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Schuchat had a special message for clinicians about the importance of antiviral therapy, especially among those at risk of developing severe flu complications, or in young children, elderly adults, pregnant women, or those with preexisting conditions, such as heart or lung disease. She urged Hoosiers to get a flu shot if they haven't already and to take precautions, including frequent hand-washing and covering their mouths when coughing, to protect their families.

"I wish there was better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Schuchat said at a news conference.

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