Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Greater than six million individuals have had flu this season — CDC

Greater than six million individuals have had flu this season — CDC

Between Oct. 1, 2018 and January 5, 2019, about 6 million to 7 million people were reported to have contracted the flu, according to data collected by the health agency. A year ago at this time, the proportion of outpatient visits for flu-like illness was 5.8%.

Adult flu deaths are not officially counted, but 16 children have died so far.

Health officials recommend Hoosiers protect their families by getting a flu shot if they haven't already and to take precautions, including frequent hand-washing and covering their mouths when coughing.

Flu activity remained elevated for the 2018-2019 flu season, but most influenza indicators were down sharply from last year's high-severity flu season, according to the most recent CDC data. This year, the annual epidemic is unfolding more slowly than it did last year. As many as 83,500 people with the flu had been hospitalized by that date.

And in Saskatchewan, public health officials are pleading with parents to get their children vaccinated after influenza killed three unvaccinated preschoolers in the province.

"Calculations are based on adjusted rates of laboratory-confirmed, influenza-associated hospitalizations collected through a surveillance network that covers approximately 8.5 percent of the US population, or about 27 million people", the CDC said. As of December 29, 2018, 13 children had died from influenza this flu season.

Quick treatment can save lives, the CDC said. "These new in-season estimates fill out the picture of the burden of flu in the United States", the agency said in a statement, adding that they will be updated weekly.

The CDC recommends that just about everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine. "Year in and year out, people who get a flu vaccine are better off than people who do not get vaccinated", the CDC said.

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