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Flu season takes a turn for the worse, leading to school closings in some states



There have been as many as 11.4 million flu illnesses, 5.4 million medical visits and 136,000 flu hospitalizations between October 1, 2018 and January 19, 2019, according to the weekly flu report released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

During the weekend that ended January 19, the CDC reported three additional children had died due to influenza-related causes, bringing the total number to 22 for the season. For adults, flu deaths are estimated based on pneumonia and other illnesses related to influenza. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was 7.2%, which is slightly higher than the usual threshold of 7.1% for this time of year, the CDC said, based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Flu activity is expected to remain elevated for weeks, with 1

8 states and New York City experiencing high activity last week, an increase over the previous week, when only nine states reported the same

States reporting widespread activity rose from 30

The CDC also recorded 14.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 people for the week ended January 19. This is the overall rate with a higher proportion of people who are 65 and older requiring hospitalization (38.3 per 100,000) followed by children up to age 4 (26.5 per 100,000).

Over the past five seasons, the end-of-season hospitalization rates ranged from 31.4 per 100,000 (2015-2016) to 102.8 per 100,000 (2017-2018)

About 55 million students and 7 million staff attend the more than 130,000 public and private schools each school day in the United States, according to the CDC. No government agency tallies the number of flu-related school closings; however CNN has unofficially counted school districts in at least 12 states that have been closed for one day or longer as a result of flu outbreaks. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Private schools have also closed in additional states, including California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana and West Virginia.

 With up to 7.3 million people hit by flu this season, scientists seek for better vaccine

The H1N1 virus strain is the most widely confirmed influenza A strain this season, however H3 viruses are dominant in the southeastern United States, the CDC reported Friday. Last year, the H3N2 strain, which is known to cause more severe disease, dominated.

The most important response to seasonal influenza, according to the CDC, is for every age

Influenza B strain viruses, which lead to the same influenza symptoms as A strain viruses, are also circulating as usual. 6 months or older to get vaccinated against the flu. As long as the flu is circulating in the area where you live, it is not too late to get vaccinated. People under age 65, children under age 2 and individuals with medical conditions should also receive pneumococcal vaccination to prevent pneumonia, according to the CDC

Overall, the effectiveness of last year's flu shot was estimated to be 40%, meaning getting vaccinated reduced the risk of seeking medical care by 40%.

Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said that those who receive the vaccine are less likely to require hospitalization and are less likely to die.

"The vaccine is not perfect," said Schaffner. "But give the vaccine credit for softening the blow."


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