Flu season in full swing with record 30 states affected as doctors urge people to get vaccinated to prevent fatal infection
The US was hit badly by the flu two years ago, killing 79,000 people. Health experts think it's too early to make an estimate of what the next few months have in store.
The flu season, which has recently taken off in the US, has claimed the lives of two elderly women in the past week. A five-year-old unvaccinated child from Texas also died last week from the flu. Accordingly, health experts are stressing the importance of vaccination.
According to reports, 30 states are seeing flu activity for this time of the year - the most states in a decade. Earlier, health agencies in Riverside County, California, Los Angeles County, and Marion County, Indiana, had also reported their first flu-related deaths of the 2019-20 season. Until last Friday, two flu-related pediatric deaths have occurred, says CDC.
The flu virus does have the potential to cause severe illness and death, especially in the very young, very old, or those who have underlying health conditions', said the Iowa health department's medical director Dr. Caitlin Pedati in a statement. "This is a great time to get the flu vaccine to prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming sick before flu activity increases further", she adds.
The US flu season is just beginning and can last through May, with peak infections generally hitting between December and February, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).
The US was hit badly by the flu two years ago, killing 79,000 Americans. However, health experts think it is too early to make an estimate of what the next few months have in store. “Overall, this season has not been as scary. Of course, it’s still early. So far, different health departments have been able to contain it in ways that have allowed us not to have some type of significant outbreak or problem", Ogbonnaya Omenka, assistant professor and public health specialist at Butler University, told USA news. However, health officials are urging people to get their flu shots before the situation escalates.
Another matter of concern for the health agencies is this year's flu season in Australia, affecting 272,146 people by the end of the first week of September. The flu season in Australia can be indicative of what is to come in the US, say experts. “The Australian season was bad, but the numbers were somewhat inflated by the fact that the season started earlier than normal and that caused a significant increase in testing”, Scott Pauley, CDC spokesman, told CNBC.
Health officials have another challenge as the flu season peaks: figuring out the virus strain in circulation. "It’s too early to know which influenza viruses will predominate in the United States this season, but regardless of what is circulating, the best protection against influenza is a flu vaccination. Most flu vaccines in the U.S. protect against four different viruses", CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told USA news.