With residents across the state and country suffering intense and lingering colds and the flu, public health experts are warning that this will be an especially harsh flu season. Last Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned that this flu season is on track to be one of the worst in a decade.
"That uptick that started early -- which was right at the very beginning of December, end of November, and is continuing to go way up -- has led now to widespread flu activity through virtually, essentially the entire country with few exceptions," Fauci told the DC station, WTOP.
The CDC reports, that during the first week of the year, ending Jan.5, there were 4,222 residents in the nation who tested positive for influenza. As of Thursday, Jan. 10, there have been 1,680 cases of influenza in the state confirmed by the lab, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH). Last year, there were only 30 confirmed cases of the flu, the Hartford Courant reported on Thursday.
According to DPH flu statistics through Jan. 5, New Haven County has the largest number of flu cases at 453, closely followed by Fairfield County at 451. Hartford County has 308. Tolland County has the fewest cases of the flu: 49.
The flu popping up most across the country is of an especially aggressive strain, lasting longer and having stronger symptoms than other strains, says Gawker.com. According to the CDC Seasonal Weekly FluView, New York City and 24 states, including Rhode Island, reported high influenza-like illness (ILI) activity level for the first week of January, compared to Connecticut and Maine’s minimal ILI level.
The mayor of Boston had to declare a public health emergency due to flu on Wednesday, with the city already confirming 10 times as many cases of flu as the previous year. As of Friday, 18 people had died of flu in the state of Massachusetts.
William Gerrish, health department spokesmen, told Hartford Courant that there have been three flu-related deaths in Connecticut, all of the patients over age 65 with additional health issues.
Influenza in the Connecticut has been classified as “widespread” geographically by the state’s DPH for the first week of January. The ILI has been “generally increasing” over the past eight weeks.
Dr. Michael Saxe, head emergency medicine at Middlesex Hospital told WFSB 3, "We're seeing about a 25 to 30 percent increase in visits to the emergency department," because of the flu. Hartford Hospital also saw one of the highest capacity days it has ever had last Wednesday, according to Hartford Courant.
DPH officials said that statewide admissions to hospitals attributed to the "pneumonia syndrome" has also been on the rise over the past five weeks. With an admission rate of about 9.3 percent, it is higher that the previous two seasons, according to WSFB.
Stay tuned for my follow-up piece tomorrow on how to holistically attack the cold and flu.