This Flu Season Is the Worst in Nearly a Decade

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An emergency room nurse treating a flu patient in Vista, Calif., earlier this month. Mike Blake/Reuters

This year’s flu season is now more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and is still getting worse, federal health officials said on Friday.

Nationally, the number of people who are falling ill with flu is still increasing. More worrying, the hospitalization rate — a predictor of the death rate — has just jumped, and is now on track to equal or surpass that of the 2014-2015 flu season.

In that year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, 34 million Americans got the flu, 710,000 were hospitalized and about 56,000 people died.

“We’ll expect something around those numbers,” Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the C.D.C.’s influenza division, said during a telephone news conference Friday.

How This Flu Season Compares With Recent Ones

This chart shows percentage of outpatient visits for flu-like symptoms in this and previous flu seasons.

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%
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
10
20
30
40
50
2017–2018 flu season
2013–2017
flu seasons
Weeks from the early October start of flu season

%
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
2017–2018
flu season
2013–2017
flu seasons

Weeks from the early October start of flu season

%
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50

Weeks from the early October start of flu season
2013–2017
flu seasons
2017–2018
flu season

This week, the deaths of seven children were reported to the C.D.C., bringing this season’s total to 37. In 2014-2015, there were 148 pediatric deaths — which the agency tracks individually, not by estimates, as it does with death totals.

It is too early to estimate how many children will die this season, Dr. Jernigan said, because the flu season still has weeks to run, and because the agency often does not learn of deaths — especially of children who die at home — until weeks after they occur.

Source: The New York Times