Health officials believe the current flu season is peaking. However, there has been a second wave of a nasty strain of the influenza virus that has them concerned so people should still be vigilant.
According to the Associated Press, the current flu season is coming to a peak. Experts estimate that there is a 90 percent probability that the season has already peaked. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that influenza is currently widespread in 48 states across the U.S. This is down from 49 states in the previous week.
However, health officials have noted a new wave of a nasty strain of the influenza virus. This strain is causing more hospitalizations and deaths, particularly in the elderly.
Usually, one strain of influenza dominates each flu season. This year, it has been noted that the most recorded strain has been considered mild, compared to the previous year. Last year, it was estimated that 80,000 people in the U.S. died as a result of the flu and its associated complications. By comparison, this year’s strain has been the cause of approximately 20,000 to 30,000 flu-related deaths so far this season. In addition, this season has seen approximately “300,000 flu-related hospitalizations and around 25 million flu illnesses.”
The flu is supposed to be on the downturn, but not in these states. https://t.co/dCVTPv2DFx— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 8, 2019
“We’re still having flu,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, according to CNN.
“And we’re still seeing a steady stream of patients who are being admitted to hospital with influenza.”
However, the new strain is now taking over the milder strain and has become more prevalent in the last two weeks. This strain is known as Type A H3N2 and has shown up in 60 percent of tested cases recently. This is also the strain that was prevalent last year, making it such a deadly season for influenza. Prior in the current flu season, it was the milder H1N1 strain that dominated.
“H3N2, in general, produces more severe disease,” Schaffner said.
“That was the virus that was causing so much trouble last year. All of these viruses, but particularly H3N2, have a tendency to try to put you in the hospital and set you up for a secondary case of pneumonia.”
It has been noted that 37 flu-related hospitalizations per every 100,000 people have occurred during the week ending on March 2. A higher proportion of the elderly have also been affected, with CNN stating that 107 per every 100,000 elderly people have been hospitalized. In addition, 49 in 100,000 children up to the age of 4 have been hospitalized in the recorded week.