Feb 1, 2020, 11:35 AM
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), flu globally attacks 5%–10% adults and 20%–30% children annually.
According to the CDC, during the year when the influenza A (H3N2) viruses are prominent, death rates are typically more than double as compared to seasons when the influenza A (H1N1) or influenza B viruses dominate. This is because the influenza A (H3N2) virus is far more potent and contagious than the H1N1 influenza virus.
Hospitalizations and flu season deaths occur mainly among the high-risk groups such as young children below the age of 5 years, the elderly above the age of 65 years, and those with chronic medical illnesses.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), experts say the flu season is in full swing with an estimated 4.6 million flu illnesses, 39,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths from flu so far this season.
The rate of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) spiked in the week ending on Dec 21, from 3.9% to 5.1% — a trend typically seen during winter holidays. Rates of ILI have been above the national baseline of 2.4% for 7 weeks.
Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and New York City reported high levels of ILI. Flu activity was described as widespread in 39 states.
The CDC said hospitalization rates rose to 6.6 per 100,000 population, up from 5.5 per 100,000 population during the second week of December. The highest rate of hospitalization was among adults aged older than 65 (14.4 per 100,000 population), followed by children ages 0 to 4 (12.5 per 100,000 population) and adults ages 50 to 64 (7.0 per 100,000 population). All age groups have seen a significant increase in the last week.
The CDC said hospitalization rates mirror previous seasons.
Influenza A has been detected in 52.9% of hospitalized cases, and 46.4% were associated with influenza B.
In testing at public health labs, influenza B accounts for 58.8% of positive flu samples collected from across the country, 98.7% of which are Victoria lineage. Influenza A was detected in 41.2% of specimens, with most of those (94.8%) subtyped as the H1N1 strain first seen in 2009.
“Activity is being caused mostly by influenza B/Victoria viruses, which is unusual for this time of year. A(H1N1) viruses are the next most common and are increasing in proportion relative to other influenza viruses in some regions,” the CDC said.
Three pediatric deaths were also recorded in the last week, raising the season’s total to 22. All three recent deaths were associated with influenza B viruses; only six deaths in total this season have been associated with influenza A.
In the 2018-2019 flu season, the CDC confirmed 143 pediatric deaths.
The CDC encouraged all who have not yet done so to receive a seasonal influenza vaccine, as the season is set to last for several more weeks.
DEATHS DUE DO EPIDEMICS
The world has seen five pandemics during the last century, which took a large number of lives. Here are the figures of deaths that occurred in the United States and Worldwide during those years.
1889 Russian Flu Pandemic – about 1 million flu deaths
“Spanish flu” A of 1918-19 caused the highest number of influenza-related deaths: approximately 500,000 deaths occurred in the U.S. and 20 million worldwide. That figure is more than the total number of deaths caused by the World War one — 16 million. As a matter of fact, during that year, the flu had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.
“Asian flu” A of 1957-58 caused 70,000 deaths in the United States and about one million to two million deaths worldwide
“Hong-Kong flu” A of 1968-69 resulted in 34,000 deaths in the United States and an estimated one million to three million people died worldwide.
2009 H1N1 Flu Pandemic – about 18,300 deaths in the United States and up to 203,000 deaths worldwide