Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Flu outbreak has killed at least 63 children: CDC officials

Flu outbreak has killed at least 63 children: CDC officials

Schuchat said hospitalizations also have increased for people who have developed bacterial pneumonia as a outcome of the flu.

"This is a hard flu season and we can't predict how long it will last", CDC acting director Anne Schuchat said at a briefing for reporters.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control are saying this flu season has been record-breaking.

"I wish there were better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Schuchat said.

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The peak of the flu season could still be several weeks away, federal health officials cautioned Friday. That ties the highest level seen in the USA during swine flu in 2009. The flu season is now in its 11th week, and it is sometimes hard to determine when it has reached its peak. Vaccination of children against the flu is a relatively new phenomenon that may help limit the pediatric toll, she said.

Hospitalizations for this year's flu season reached the highest levels since HHS began tracking such data closely in 2010.

Flu activity continues to be high and widespread, according to the Department of Health. About half of the children hospitalized for the flu were previously healthy, with no known underlying illness.

Of the 167 people who have died across the state, 13 have died in Marion County; 5 in Morgan County; 5 in Tippecanoe County; 9 in Hamilton County; and 6 in Shelby County. The CDC considers the 2014-15 season "moderately severe" with high levels of illness, hospitalizations and deaths compared to previous seasons and has used it as a comparison to the current season.

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"We're still characterizing this year's virus", Schuchat said. They're also more likely to be blocked by the flu vaccine. It first hit that spring, at the tail end of the winter season, but doctor visits hit their height in late October during a second wave.

Schuchat said people should still get the flu shot and noted that strains better controlled by vaccines are becoming more common as the season progresses - and can even infect people who have already had the flu.

This flu season, hospitalization rates have surpassed the nasty season of the winter of 2014-2015, when the vaccine was a poor match to the main bug.

The CDC also recorded a rise in the percentage of patients who visited health care providers complaining of influenza-like illness across the nation: 7.7% of patients for the week ending February 3, up from an estimated 7.1% during the previous week.

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