Flu hits young, middle aged people hard this year

February 20, 2014
influenza
Electron microscopy of influenza virus. Credit: CDC

The flu is hitting young and middle aged people in the United States particularly hard this season, as a tough flu strain re-emerged and too few people were vaccinated, health authorities said Thursday.

More than 60 percent of all severe cases this season in the United States were in people 18-64 years old—or about double the usual rate, they said.

Typically, people at risk for include pregnant women, the elderly, children and people with compromised immune systems.

The main flu circulating this season is H1N1, otherwise known as the "" that caused a pandemic four years ago.

"It is back this year, and it is hitting younger people hard," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Tom Frieden.

"One of the reasons," he said, "is that the vaccination rate for young adults, 18-64, is too low."

Only a third of all people in that age group were vaccinated as of November, compared to nearly two-thirds of children and elderly people, he said.

"That is one of the reasons we are seeing a much higher proportion of hospitalizations and death among 18-64 year olds than we generally see."

People with underlying health conditions such as obesity, asthma, lung disease and diabetes are particularly vulnerable to dangerous bouts of the flu, leading to pneumonia and possibly death.

Although experts do not have a tally of US deaths yet this season, early indications suggest that there have been more deaths than normal in the 18-64 age group.

Over the previous three flu seasons, people age 18-64 represented only about 35 percent of all .

Last year the predominant flu type was H3N2, which accounted for fewer hospitalizations among .

Getting vaccinated lowered the risk of having to see a doctor by about 60 percent for people of all ages, the CDC added.

"Vaccination is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself against the flu," Frieden said.

The flu is expected to continue to make people sick for the next several weeks across the United States.

The CDC recommends that all people over the age of six months get a each year.

Explore further: CDC: Flu season starting a little more normally

Related Stories

CDC: Flu season starting a little more normally

December 12, 2013
Health officials say the flu season seems to be getting off to more normal start this year.

US flu cases continue to climb

January 10, 2014
(HealthDay)—Flu season continues to tighten its grip on the United States, with 35 states now experiencing widespread influenza activity, federal officials reported Friday.

There's still time to get a flu shot

February 5, 2014
(HealthDay)—It's still not too late to get a flu shot, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

Early, severe flu season caused big rise in child deaths: CDC

June 14, 2013
(HealthDay)—This past flu season started earlier, peaked earlier and led to more adult hospitalizations and child deaths than most flu seasons, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.

Flu still at epidemic levels: CDC

January 25, 2013
(HealthDay)—While flu activity remains high across the United States, there are signs that the number of infections may be leveling off, federal health officials reported Friday.

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.

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

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.