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Flu Could Break Recent Records

SATURDAY, Feb. 10, 2018 -- This year's dangerous flu season shows no sign of waning, and "may be on track to break some recent records."

That was the sobering assessment offered Friday by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat.

In South Carolina, more than 100 deaths have been reported.

Flu activity across the country has reached new highs compared to other recent severe flu seasons, Schuchat said. For example:

  • Levels of influenza-like illness across the country are as high as observed at the peak of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
  • The current hospitalization rate is approaching the final rate seen at the end of the severe 2014-15 season.
  • Middle-aged people are being stricken at nearly twice the rate seen in 2014-15, although health officials aren't sure why. The flu usually is hardest on the very young and the very old.

Unfortunately, the flu season probably won't start winding down anytime soon, Schuchat added.

For the past five years, the flu season has lasted between 11 and 20 weeks, she said.

"We're only at week 11 now, so we could potentially see several more weeks of increased flu activity," Schuchat said.

As of Feb. 3, a total of 48 states continued to experience widespread flu activity, according to the CDC's latest surveillance report. In Oregon and Hawaii, flu is occurring at a more limited regional level, rather than statewide.

Flu-linked hospitalization rates continue to rise -- from 51.5 per 100,000 people for the week ending Jan. 27 to 59.9 per 100,000 people for the week ending Feb. 3.

"Overall hospitalizations are now significantly higher than what we've seen for this time of year since our current tracking system began almost a decade ago, in 2010," Schuchat said.

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