ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Flu activity remains high nationwide, but the severity of those cases is lower this year than at the same time in previous years, according to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) weekly influenza report.
Five new pediatric flu deaths were reported for the week ending Jan. 4, meaning 32 children have now died from the flu this season. The CDC estimates there have been at least 9.7 million cases of flu this season, accounting for 87,000 hospitalizations and 4,800 deaths. The elderly and children typically make up the majority of those hospitalizations and deaths from the flu each year.
The overall flu hospitalization rate for this season increased slightly to 14.6 per 100,000 people. The CDC says this is similar to what has been seen this time of the year in seasons past. The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza stands at 5.8%, remaining below epidemic levels.
The CDC says overall, it expects to see fewer flu-related hospitalizations and deaths this season. This is because the strains of flu most prevalent this season (influenza B/Victoria and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses) are more likely to affect children and young adults, or people less susceptible to serious illnesses from the flu, rather than the elderly, who are more likely to experience serious complications from the flu.
New York maintains a high level of flu activity, bordered on three sides by states who are also experiencing high flu activity. Vermont is the only bordering state experiencing low levels, the CDC says. In fact, Vermont is one of only three states in the country reporting just “regional” flu activity. The remaining states, including N.Y., (with the exception of Hawaii, which maintains a “local activity” rating) have all reported widespread flu activity.
The CDC says it is not too late to get a flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the flu.