The proportion of Americans seeing their health care provider for flu-like illness has doubled over the past four weeks to 5.6%, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That compares with an overall high of 2.2% last flu season, which was relatively mild.
Twenty-nine states and New York City are reporting high levels of flu-like illness, and nine states are reporting moderate levels. “While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Joe Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch at CDC’s Influenza Division. “Anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now.”
CDC also recommends early antiviral treatment for people with confirmed or suspected flu who are hospitalized, severely ill or at higher risk for complications. Flu hospitalizations since October have totaled 2,257, or 8.1 per 100,000 people, which Bresee called “high for this time of year.”