CDC: Flu activity still high, linked to 8 new kids' deaths

  • CDC: Flu activity still high, linked to 8 new kids' deaths

CDC: Flu activity still high, linked to 8 new kids' deaths

Timmons said that while the flu seems to be diminishing for the season (which officially runs through the end of April), it is still present and we should all take precautions to wash our hands regularly and, if you get a touch of the flu, stay home and don't spread the discomfort to friends, family and co-workers.

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

Officials believe those numbers could be gravely higher because not all flu-related deaths are detected or reported.

The percentage of respiratory specimens that tested positive for flu slightly increased last week, from 25.9% to 26.1%, but clinic visits for flulike illness dropped a bit, from 5% to 4.7%, but remained well above the national baseline of 2.2%. "However the vaccine is more effective against that strain this year, which I think explains why we're seeing less deaths and less overall flu activity comparatively", says Howard.

It's unclear whether the season has peaked, but there are still weeks of flu activity to come this season, with 48 states and Puerto Rico reporting widespread activity.

The CDC also recorded about 37 hospitalizations per every 100,000 people during the week ending March 2. And at public health labs, of subtyped influenza A viruses last week, 62% were H3N2 and 38% were 2009 H1N1.

For comparison, the hospitalization rate is less than half of what it was at this point last season.

"H3N2, in general, produces more severe disease", he said. "That was the virus that was causing so much trouble previous year".

333 people died during the previous flu season. It's not guaranteed to prevent you from getting the flu, sister station WKYT reports, but officials said it could lessen the severity of the symptoms.