Federal health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday, in the latest weekly report, that the flu had struck the United States so hard it was likely that the ending death toll was going to mark around 150. Likewise, the authorities noted that the estimated number of people who had been hospitalized was nearly 12,000, but that it was going to keep rising until late February and middle March.
This season did not only start earlier than previous ones, but also reached the majority of states practically at the same time – 39 states, Puerto Rico, and New York City among them. The rising national number of dead people will not only approach, but maybe exceed, the one reported after the flu season between 2014 and 2015. As the experts wrote, the flu that attacked that period is the exact virulent strain that’s currently in America.
The number of children among the list of victims this year is 37. However, those who have received the most significant impact are the elders: first the ones who are up to 65 years old, and then people aged between 50 and 64.
Although the death toll given by the officials is accurate, it is still just an estimation. As they wrote, every person that dies outside a hospital has to be reported to the medical examiner or coroner. This process takes time and delays the analysts’ job.
Referring to the final number, the experts said it’s going to be twice as more. There are thousands of people affected by the flu, and hundreds of them don’t use to report they’re sick due to different reasons.
“It has been a tough flu season,” and maybe only half over, said Dan Jernigan, who leads the CDC’s influenza division.
A comparison between the worst seasons
This year, the number of people looking for help after having gotten sick due to the flu is way higher than the one reported in 2009 – when the whole country witnessed the swine flu pandemic. Besides that season, the last time that America experienced such a high levels of flu was between the years 2003 and 2004.
The majority of people who are suffering this 2017 from influenza is due to a strain of virus known as H3N2, which severely affects the children and the ones who are up to 65 years old. However, compared to previous years where this same strain has been noted to be the most dominating, the officials said they noticed two differences.
But this season, “baby boomers have higher rates of hospitalization than their grandchildren right now,” Jernigan told The Washington Post.
Jernigan said that influenza reached all the states this time, something never seen in the past few years. Then, he added that flu activity has stayed at the “same national level for three weeks in a row.” As he noted, experts usually see “different parts of the country light up at different times,” but there are a lot of people across the nation suffering from influenza this time.
Likewise, Jernigan said the number of people attending to hospital emergency rooms and doctors’ offices is also one of the highest that the health officials have ever seen. Right now, that same number is over a peak, and can only be compared to the same 2009-2010 pandemic and the 2003-2004 flu season.
Children spreading the flu
People started quickly getting sick at the beginning of October but got worse after the holidays.
It’s highly possible that the main reason why influenza spread so fast was due to the children returning to school and infecting the siblings.
All the cities reported high numbers of people affected by the flu, but some of them reported higher numbers than others.
One of the states that has reported the highest numbers of victims is California. As Jernigan said, there are four hospitalized people more than the ones remarked in the flu season between the years 2014 and 2015. However, and fortunately, health officials already announced that number had started to decrease.
Every time the flu starts to decrease, there’s still a weekly-period where doctors keep receiving people affected by the virus.
“By that measure, we are about halfway there,” Jernigan said on this 2017 flu season.. “But it means we have several more weeks of flu to go.”
Minnesota and New York are other states that have experienced a higher number of hospitalized than the ones reported in the 2014-2015 flu season. But unlike California, these keep increasing.