US flu activity up, death toll reaches 23K

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ATLANTA (Gray News) – Flu-like activity is up in the United States this week, but its severity is moderate to low overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

Flu activity was high in Puerto Rico and 41 states. (Source: CDC)

The CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 23,000 deaths from flu, 38 million flu illnesses and 390,000 hospitalizations.

Compared to recent years, hospitalization rates for flu-related cases in the United States are moderate, but young children and young adults are a different story.

“Rates for children 0-4 years and adults 18-49 years are now the highest CDC has on record for these age groups, surpassing rates reported during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic,” the CDC said.

“Hospitalization rates for school-aged children (5-17 years) are higher than any recent regular season but remain lower than rates experienced by this age group during the pandemic.”

A total of 149 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported this season. That’s an increase of 5 since last week’s report.

“This number is higher than recorded at the same time in every season since reporting began in 2004-05, except for the 2009 pandemic,” the CDC said.

The CDC projects flu activity to remain elevated throughout this month.

Flu activity was high in Puerto Rico and 41 states. It was moderate in Ohio and New Hampshire. It was low in the District of Columbia, Alaska, Delaware, Idaho and Nevada.

Only minimal amounts of flu were reported in Arizona, Florida and Wyoming.

Flu shots are recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.

Different flu shots are approved for people of different ages. Everyone should get a vaccine that is appropriate for their age, according to the CDC.

It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop and provide protection against the flu after your vaccination.

The agency also says you shouldn’t go to an emergency room if you are only mildly ill, but instead call your doctor for advice.

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