CDC update on widespread influenza activity

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday reported 42 states had heavy flu-related patient traffic last week, up from 39 the week before.

Although most flu-related deaths are among the older demographics, a vast majority of flu cases are among younger Hoosiers.

This year's risky flu season shows no sign of waning, and "may be on track to break some recent records".

A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds there's been little change since 1999 in the number of sudden infant deaths. The vaccine may also reduce the severity of symptoms if you catch the flu despite getting vaccinated.

"I wish there was better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a news conference Friday.

The statistics released by CDC indicate a worsening situation.

Unfortunately, the flu season probably won't start winding down anytime soon, Schuchat added.

She said data from the CDC's Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILInet), which includes about 2,500 outpatient providers, indicate that nationally for the week ending January 27 the proportion of outpatient visits for ILI was 7.1 percent-which is the tenth consecutive week that it has been above the national baseline of 2.2 percent.

Although deaths among children - at 63 kids - and adults have not been extremely high, it is possible they could increase in line with hospitalization rates, she said.

There were six influenza-associated pediatric deaths in New York City out of 106 nationally for the 2016-2017 flu season, according to the city's health department. Ten new deaths happened during week five.

Many of these individuals have likely already been hospitalized.

Former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said this flu season is one of the worst. B strains accounted for 30% of tested viruses last week.

Crystal Whitley received flu vaccination in October previous year after giving birth to her son.

Angie Barwise was first diagnosed with flu, bronchitis, and strep during the holidays.

The CDC said it is not yet too late to get vaccinated and some protection is better than none.

Flu shots are now available at all Rite Aid pharmacies and are covered by most insurance plans with $0 co-pay, including Medicare Part B. Rite Aid certified immunizing pharmacists are able to administer flu shots, subject to state regulations, during pharmacy hours; no appointment is necessary.

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