A spokesman for the CDC has announced that the early flu season being experienced in the US is continuing to accelerate. According to the latest figures, the flu is now widespread in 41 states and twenty-nine states have reported high levels of flu activity.
By the end of last month 18 children had lost their lives due to complications associated with the illness, and over 2,200 people have been reportedly hospitalized.
A member of the surveillance and response team monitoring influenza for the CDC stated that this flu season has started about five weeks ahead of average. The last time the nation saw such an early outbreak was 2003 to 2004, according to a statement to NBC News.
The early flu outbreak in those previous years peaked in mid-December. According to the latest report released on December 28, this flu season has yet to reach a peak.
According to the figures released by the CDC, the most prominent strain of influenza this season is influenza A (H3N2). Research indicates that H1N1, which were more prominent in 2009, have only been seen rarely this season.
Dr. Joe Bresee, Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in the CDC’s Influenza Division stresses the importance of vaccination against the flu:
“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. Anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now.”
Dr. Bresee also offers sound advise for those who have contracted the illness:
“And it’s important to remember that people who have severe influenza illness, or who are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications, should get treated with influenza antiviral medication if they get flu symptoms regardless of whether or not they got vaccinated. Also, you don’t need to wait for a positive laboratory test to start taking antivirals.”
The CDC releases new information about the progression of reported influenza cases every Friday. Google Flu Trends and Flu Near You both offer mapping applications where flu occurrances can be viewed or recorded.