Flu outbreak has CDC worried

Flu outbreak has CDC worried

This year’s influenza season started earlier than expected and is sending more patients to the hospital, raising concerns this could be a more severe outbreak than in recent years.

Thirty-six states are now experiencing high levels of flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, as this year’s flu vaccine may not fully protect against a strain known as influenza A H3N2 that is currently circulating and tends to be more severe.

Fifteen children age 18 and under have died from the flu as of Dec. 20, compared with four such deaths around the same time last year, according to the CDC. A number of hospitals are outpacing previous years, with some restricting visitors to prevent the spread of the virus. …

Distribution problems may be making it harder for some consumers to gain access to antiviral drugs given early in the illness. The CDC alerted pharmacies last week that there may be greater demand for these drugs earlier in the season. Agency officials said they have heard of anecdotal reports of a shortage of Tamiflu, a common antiviral medication. …

For patients of all ages, the hospitalization rate of flu patients so far is 9.7 people per 100,000 people in the general population, compared with 4.3 people per 100,000 last year and 5.5 people per 100,000 in the 2012-13 flu season.

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