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Public healthCDC: Flu still rising across U.S.; 16 more pediatric deaths

Published 5 February 2018

We are not out of the woods yet,” said Anne Schuchat, the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as she described the rising influenza activity that’s swept across the United States. According to Schuchat, this past week brought yet another increase in influenza-like illness (ILI) activity, a spike in hospitalizations, and, most distressingly, 16 new reports of pediatric influenza deaths. Now 53 pediatric deaths this season have been attributed to the flu. The last season as severe as this year’s was in 2014-15, but at this point in that season the cumulative hospitalization rate was 43.5 per 100,000 population. This week that number was 51.4 per 100,000 population, according to the latest FluView surveillance data published by the CDC.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Anne Schuchat, the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as she described the rising influenza activity that’s swept across the United States.

According to Schuchat, this past week brought yet another increase in influenza-like illness (ILI) activity, a spike in hospitalizations, and, most distressingly, 16 new reports of pediatric influenza deaths. Now 53 pediatric deaths this season have been attributed to the flu.

Schuchat and Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, briefed the media on flu activity today.

Jernigan said that pediatric deaths in past flu seasons have ranged from 37 to 171, with 368 deaths in children reported during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009-10. Jernigan said about half of the children who died this season were healthy prior to their flu infections.

While reports of overcrowded hospitals and closed school districts continue to appear in the news cycle, Jernigan and Schuchat urged parents to monitor sick children closely.

“We of course don’t want the worried well to be exposed to flu at a hospital, but if your child has persistent high fever, or if they improve but then get sick again, those are signs it’s time to see a provider,” said Schuchat.

Hospitalizations surpass 2014-15
CIDRAP notes that the last season as severe as this year’s was in 2014-15, but at this point in that season the cumulative hospitalization rate was 43.5 per 100,000 population. This week that number was 51.4 per 100,000 population, according to the latest FluView surveillance data published by the CDC.

The hospitalization rate for those 65 and older was 226.8 per 100,000 population, a jump from the previous week’s rate of 183.1 per 100,000 population. Adults aged 50 to 64 were hospitalized at a rate of 54.0 per 100,000 population, and children aged 4 years and younger at 33.3 per 100,000 population.