44 states reported high flu virus activity
Health officials reported Friday that the flu situation in the U.S. continues to worsen, with 7.5 percent of all doctor visits now related to influenza illnesses. That’s as high as it was at the peak of the 2017-2018 flu season, and higher than any other season since then.
Usually flu season starts in December-January, but this year it started earlier and is complicated by the spread of other viruses.
The percentages cited are based on reports of symptoms such as coughs and sore throats rather than lab-confirmed diagnoses, and therefore may include other respiratory illnesses.
Meanwhile, 44 states reported high or very high flu activity last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.
That may not bode well for the near future. Medics speculate that respiratory viruses were spread during family and friend gatherings on Thanksgiving Day and in crowded airports.
The CDC estimates that at least 78,000 people have been hospitalized with the flu since the start of the season and that 4,500 have died. Among those who have died are at least 14 children.
Flu shots are recommended for almost all Americans over 6 months of age.