Minnesota's flu season is worse than expected, and it's not done yet

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Despite hopes the nation would see the flu epidemic drop off by now, the number of severe cases only continues to increase, US health officials said in a somber telephone conference Friday.

Additionally, the data show 1 out of every 10 people who died the US over the last week died of either influenza or pneumonia, Schuchat said.

As the total number of flu cases in the state climbed to 52,567, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday directed state Department of Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to authorize additional funding to county health officials so that they can expand access to the flu shot.

During a press briefing today, CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD, RADM, USPHS, said 48 states are now experiencing widespread influenza activity with OR and Hawaii indicating regional flu activity.

There were 40,414 deaths in the USA during the third week of 2018, the most recent data available, and 4064 were from pneumonia or influenza, according to the CDC data. States are not required to report flu-related deaths for adults, so we don't have exact numbers for how many in total have passed away.

Flu infection rates are rising higher than those in any year since 2009, when the swine flu pandemic hit the country, according to the CDC.

Epidemiologists and virus experts don't have an explanation yet for why the flu this season has been worse than usual, Schuchat said. Flu seasons dominated by H3N2 tend to be more severe and result in more hospitalizations.

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In the weekly report, however, the CDC revealed that levels of H3N2 appear to be dropping. The type A, subtype H3N2 strain tends to strike older people and young children, who are already more vulnerable to flu. Past flu seasons have lasted as long as 20 weeks.

Schuchat offered a warning to anyone who gets the flu, then feels better, then suddenly starts to feel much worse. "The more health conditions, the more likely we are to suffer comorbidity and issues like a simple flu or cold, you and I could rebound in a week or two, but if you're 65, 67 and have heart disease or any other underlying issues, you're gonna have a much harder time recouping from something that directly affects the respiratory system".

We have several months of flu season remaining.

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec covered efforts, in collaboration with the private sector, to develop and procure pandemic flu vaccines in greater volume and with greater effectiveness.

At Doctors Hospital of Augusta, the tide of misery has yet to turn, said Dr. Thomas Zickgraf, medical director of the Emergency Department.

The supply of the antiviral drugs used to treat patients with the flu exceeds the demand, although prescriptions are higher than in previous years, said Schuchat.

People are also recommended to avoid crowds, wash hands often, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, clean and disinfect surfaces and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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