US flu epidemic worsens, 29 children dead

January 19, 2013

A flu epidemic gripping the United States is more severe than usual, striking the elderly especially hard, health authorities said Friday as they also announced 29 child victims.

With the nation only about halfway through the season, complications are likely to worsen for those who caught the flu, said Tom Frieden, chief of the .

"We expect to see both the number and rates of hospitalization and deaths to rise further," Frieden told reporters.

The said 30 states and New York City are reporting high rates, up from 24 states last week. And more than 5,000 people have required hospitalization to treat their . New York has declared a over the crisis.

Widespread geographic flu activity was also reported in 48 states for the week ending January 12, up from 47 states the previous week.

Nationwide, influenza rates dropped slightly to 4.6 percent, down from 4.8 percent the previous week.

There is no national reporting system for flu-related deaths among adults, but the CDC said that 8.3 percent of deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to pneumonia and influenza.

That exceeds the epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent. The rate of flu- and -linked deaths the week before was 7.3 percent.

Nine children died last week alone, bringing the total to 29 since the season began in early December. The flu kills an average of about a hundred children in the United States each year. The toll was 34 in 2011-2012.

"It's shaping up to be a worse than average season and a bad season particularly for the elderly," Frieden said, stressing that there was still time to get vaccinated and that early treatment was "critically important."

He predicted that hospitalizations and deaths would continue to rise as the spreads further.

The severity of the symptoms this year may be explained by the season experiencing a dominant strain of influenza A(H3N2), historically blamed for more serious cases of the virus.

So far, about half of confirmed flu cases concern people aged 65 and older, with a high hospitalization rate of 82 per 100,000.

People older than 65 usually account for about 90 percent of the 36,000 annual flu deaths around the country.

Flu strikes every year across the United States, bringing chills, fever, coughing and achy misery to millions.

Health officials said the flu vaccine is a good match for the strain of influenza circulating around the nation, and confers about 62 percent protection against the illness this season.

The CDC recommends that everyone older than six months get vaccinated, particularly those who are at risk for serious complications, such as babies, senior citizens, pregnant women and those with chronic health issues including asthma, diabetes or lung disease.

In addition to being inoculated against the flu, health officials recommend such basic prophylactic measures as frequent hand washing, and coughing or sneezing into one's sleeve to keep the illness at bay.

Explore further: Death toll rises as flu epidemic grips US

Related Stories

Death toll rises as flu epidemic grips US

January 12, 2013
The death toll from a flu outbreak gripping the United States has reached epidemic levels and it will be at least several weeks before the outbreak abates, health officials said Friday.

48 states now report flu activity, 29 children dead: CDC

January 18, 2013
(HealthDay)—Forty-eight states are now reporting widespread flu activity, up from 47 last week, U.S. health officials reported Friday.

Massive US flu outbreak claims at least 18 lives

January 11, 2013
The United States was in the grip Thursday of a deadly influenza outbreak that has hit harder and earlier than in previous years, and has claimed the lives of at least 18 children.

Flu remains widespread in US; eases in some areas

January 18, 2013
Health officials say nine more deaths of children from the flu have been reported, bringing the total this flu season to 29.

Flu more widespread in US; eases off in some areas

January 11, 2013
Health officials say flu is more widespread across the nation, but the number of hard-hit states has declined.

Flu tightens its grip on U.S.

January 9, 2013
(HealthDay)—The 2013 flu season is living up to its advance billing as one of the worst in years.

Recommended for you

Scientists develop infection model for tickborne flaviviruses

August 22, 2017
National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have filled a research gap by developing a laboratory model to study ticks that transmit flaviviruses, such as Powassan virus. Powassan virus was implicated in the death of a ...

Zika virus stifles pregnant women's weakened immune system to harm baby, study finds

August 21, 2017
The Zika virus, linked to congenital birth defects and miscarriages, suppresses a pregnant woman's immune system, enabling the virus to spread and increasing the chances an unborn baby will be harmed, a Keck School of Medicine ...

Fatty liver can cause damage to other organs via crosstalk

August 21, 2017
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common. Approximately every third adult in industrialized countries has a morbidly fatty liver. This not only increases the risk of chronic liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis ...

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.