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The CDC estimates 1,300 flu deaths in the US so far for the 2019 season. Citing WAFF 48, the number of hospitalizations has been even higher at approximately 23,000. Among the dead are children, 10 at least.
Flu activity is widespread spanning Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
In those states affected, the most heavily hit have been Washington, Nebraska, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. There has also been a significant uptick in cases in Puerto Rico. These stats are taken from the CDC’s weekly US influenza index.
The data was a bit more sparing for other states on this list. Puerto Rico’s data is recorded in Spanish. Mississippi has only recorded their influenza data up to week 52 of 2018 and instead sent in estimates of influenza spread to CDC.
Alabama has its data divided into regional percentages, with the highest being the Southeastern, which has measured above 10% since November 23. Tennessee has its data for the weeks of flu spread set much the same. The highest percentage of cases were reported out of greater Chattanooga at above 12%_6 times the CDC baseline rate of 2.4%.
Georgia has only recorded its influenza outbreaks up until week 48, which is the week of November 24-30, 2019. They have the rates estimated at 5.85% which is nearly 3 times that CDC baseline. Georgia’s highest number of hospitalization cases were for adults ages 18-49_with 40 reported_numbers cumulative starting with week 40.
South Carolina has estimated its influenza on a topographical map chart. The highest increase rates are in the far northwest corner of the state. South Carolina’s data has updated since December 11. South Carolina reports 61 hospitalizations since that time.
Flu activity is present in all states except Alaska and spread significantly in the week ending December 7.
Each state on the list of heavily impacted states has its health department reporting additional insights. Washington reported five deaths in patients between ages 50-65+. There were eight reported cases of influenza-like illnesses in long term care facilities. The highest number of sentinel care providers reported cases in Washington were for children, which made up 4.4 percent of the surveyed patient count.
New York Daily News reports that the 1,300 deaths number is an approximate figure. There may have been even more than this. The hospitalization rates for flu-like illnesses have been above the baseline for the past five weeks.
The CDC also states that the strain of the flu the patient contracts will depend largely on their age. Elderly people and children are those who are frequently testing positive for influenza.
NBC News has reported that an unusual strain of the flu has been the most prominent this season. This strain has resulted in 2.6 million flu cases this season. The season is “starting out in a distinctive way” stated NBC quoting Dr. William Schaffner, who is an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt and medical director at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Schaffner then stated, “the predominant flu virus is one that typically doesn’t pop up until the end of the flu season, in early spring a B/Victoria strain.” He then stated that a B/Victoria strain to be so prominent at this time of year is “weird”. Typically, virus A types cause the most cases of illness each year.
NBC reports that the B virus is more likely to impact children and young adults more than other age groups. The chief epidemiologist at the University of Alabama, Dr. Rachael Lee, was quoted by NBC stating, “ We are always concerned about children under the age of 4, particularly children under the age of 1 because they can’t get an influenza vaccine until they are six months of age.”