Though the flu season got off to an early start, experts have warned that it has a while before it ends — and the particularly “nasty” strain going around may make it worse yet.
According to CBS News, this year’s flu season has been driven by a particular bug that has put more people in the hospital and caused more deaths than other, more common, flu bugs as it gains momentum.
And though states such as New York, which saw a sharp spike of more than 1,600 hospitalizations this past week, are usual places for the virus to hit, reports show an unusual advance throughout the entire continental United States.
In the second week of January alone, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more people had sought care for flu-like illnesses than any other comparable period in close to a decade, according to The Washington Post.
Though experts expect the season to peak soon, many are unsure of how long the aggressive strain will last.
Last week, numerous health officials warned the illness was blanketing the country and made assumptions it was peaking until recent reports showed otherwise.
“This is a season that has a lot more steam than we thought,” said Dr. Dan Jernigan of the CDC, adding that knowing when these things end is “difficult to predict.”
One measure that is taken to record each season is recording patient traffic to doctors or hospitals, and what flu-like symptoms are recorded therein.
And last week was regarded as the busiest week for flu symptoms in the past nine years, with thirty-two states reporting such traffic, an increase from 26 states the previous week.
Hawaii, as noted by CBS, is the only state that doesn’t have reports of the widespread illness.
The contagious respiratory illness, spread by a virus, can cause a miserable time for its host, though many people only report minor symptoms that eventually go away.
However, others such as children, elderly and those with a weakened immune system, often experience much more severe symptoms from the illness, often leading to hospitalization or even a fatality.
During a particularly bad season, experts warn that as many as 56,000 deaths are connected to the flu, with some school in Oklahoma and Texas even canceling classes as students and teachers become sick.
In Mississippi as well, the outbreaks have resulted in a visitor restriction rule to be implemented in over 100 nursing homes and long-term care facilities as symptoms have continued to spread.
“Pretty much the entire country is getting hit pretty hard at the same time,” said Lynnette Brammer, head of the domestic influenza surveillance team at the CDC. “Flu activity is still going up.”
“We’re seeing more pediatric deaths than we would expect to see at this time of year,” she added, noting that 80 percent of children who die from the flu had not been vaccinated, a measure that is recommended for anyone 6 months or older.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.