The flu is continuing to spread across America, with most of the country currently experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness (ILI), according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its latest FluView report published Friday.
“Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,” says Dr. Joe Bresee. CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination and antiviral treatment when appropriate at this time.
“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,” according to Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division.
“Anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now,” Bresee says. “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 medications 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.”
Twenty-nine states are now reporting high levels of influenza-like-illness. Another nine states are reporting moderate levels of ILI. Ten states are still reporting low or minimal ILI: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control shows 41 states with widespread flu outbreak, and Indiana is one of them. In fact, more people are sick in Indiana today than they have been in years past.
Flu season hit early in the Hoosier state this year – and it came on strong, according to Indiana state health officials, who report that approximately five percent of patients in local hospitals are suffering from influenza-like illnesses, with seven percent of those visiting their doctors suffering the same.
“We’re having a lot of influenza activity not only at Riley Hospital for Children, but all over the state. Our adult colleagues in other hospitals in the region have seen a lot of influenza admissions too and a lot of visits to the emergency room,” said Dr. John Christenson with Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
A person can be infected with the flu for two days before any symptoms show up, and during that time, they can be contagious; thus, they can be passing on the flu virus without even knowing they have it yet. And it seems this year’s flu bug is just getting started.
“It does not appear to be peaking yet, and it’s not a guarantee that we won’t have a double peak year,” said Shawn Richards with the Indiana State Department of Health.
To date, CDC has received reports of 18 pediatric deaths this season. More information about reported pediatric deaths is available at the Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality web application.
The flu could remain at this elevated level for several weeks and possibly months.