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Flu season is not over yet

15 March 2019

For adults, flu deaths are estimated based on pneumonia and other illnesses related to flu.

The numbers show that reported cases were down last week and the week before.

This flu season has marked a return to more typical numbers after last year's widespread outbreak of the virus, which prompted the federal Centers for Disease Control to classify the virus as "high severity across all age groups" in the US for the first time. In recent years, flu-related deaths have ranged from about 12,000 to 56,000, according to the CDC.

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Four of the eight deaths reported to the CDC during week nine were associated with an influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 virus, the predominate virus in most of the country this year, and occurred during weeks seven, eight and nine - the weeks ending February 16 and 23 and March 2, respectively.

As many as 347,000 people have been hospitalized with the flu.

During the 2009 pandemic when novel H1N1 flu viruses emerged to pose a worldwide threat not countered by vaccines some 358 pediatric deaths from April 15, 2009 through October 2, 2010 were reported to the CDC.

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The highest hospitalization rate is among adults 65 years and older at 107.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 population. According to William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, it has been a "double-barreled influenza outbreak this year", with H1N1 seen throughout most of the country and two waves of H3N2 infections in the southeastern United States.

"H3N2, in general, produces more severe disease", he said. But for the last two weeks, more illnesses have been tied to a strain that tends to cause more deaths. People over 65, children under 2 and individuals with medical conditions should also get a pneumococcal vaccination to prevent pneumonia. Common antivirals include Tamiflu and Xofluza. He also advises his patients to "remember to get it this fall in preparation for the next flu season".

This is so even though you cannot catch the same strain twice, because you can get another strain if you are not immunized.

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Flu season is not over yet