7 pediatric deaths reported in widespread flu season



The flu virus has reached nearly every corner of the nation.

Influenza activity is widespread in all states except Hawaii (and the District of Columbia), according to the weekly flu report released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Flu is everywhere in the US right now,” said Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the CDC’s influenza branch. “This is the first year we’ve had the entire continental US at the same level (of flu activity) at the same time.” It has been an early flu season that seems to be peaking now, he said, with a 5.8% increase in laboratory-confirmed cases this week over last.

There were 11,718 new laboratory-confirmed cases during the week ending January 6, bringing the season total to 60,161. These numbers do not include all people who have had the flu, as many do not see a doctor when sick.

Seven additional pediatric deaths were reported during the week ending January 6, bringing the total for the season to 20.

For older people, the CDC estimates deaths based on pneumonia and influenza. Based on National Center for Health Statistics data, 7% of all deaths that occurred during the week ending December 23 were due to pneumonia and influenza. This is above the rate considered normal for this period, according to Lynnette Brammer, head of the CDC’s Domestic Flu Surveillance team.

Additionally, 22.7 hospitalizations for every 100,000 people occurred over the week ending January 6, compared with 13.7 per 100,000 for the week ending December 30. Those older than 65 represent the largest group hospitalized, though people within the 50-to-64 age range and children younger than 5 are also experiencing high rates of hospitalization.

“We are currently in the midst of a very active flu season, with much of the country experiencing widespread and intense flu activity,” CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said. “The flu season may be peaking now. We know from past experience it will take many more weeks for flu activity to slow down.”

Brammer said, “Basically, it looks like things are starting to level off. We didn’t see the sharp increases that we saw the last couple of weeks.”

“Over the next few weeks, we’ll know if we peaked or not,” she said. “I would hope that the areas that have been hit a little bit earlier in the South and up the West Coast, I’m hoping that those people — particularly some of the states in the…



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