The manner in which the U.S. has been ravaged by influenza this year is comparable to scenarios where there is appearance of the completely new strain of virus which impacts an entire vulnerable population even before such a population has managed to find out a way to create defenses against it.
This latest health phenomenon is still being attempted to be decoded by public health experts.
Anne Schuchat, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s acting director said that the current illness that resembles influenza and which is being reported are at level that resemble those at the height of the 2009 swine flu epidemic and has surpassed the level that was hit during 2003 when seasonal flu hit the country severely as an outbreak.
According to CDC data, 12,469 Americans were killed, 274,304 were hospitalized and 6.8 million Americans were affected in 21009 and 2010 by the swine flu epidemic that had engulfed the entire world. There are predictions that the current outbreak could result in deaths far exceeding those in the 2009-10 season.
“This is a difficult season, and we can’t predict how much longer the severe season will last,” she said. “I wish there was better news, but everything we are looking at is bad news.”
Schuchat said that the primary type of influenza that has impacted people this year cannot be considered to be a novel strain as it has not changed significantly from earlier seasons. The reason for the strain being so hard hitting this year is still being investigated by virologists of the agency.
“We have a lot to learn still about influenza,” she said. “It’s a wake-up call about how severe influenza can be, and why we can never let down our guard.”
Schuchat said that 1 of every 10 deaths last week were caused by influenza and pneumonia which is a combination t hat often occurs together in the winter months. According to the most recent data available, during the third week of 2018, there have been 40,414 deaths in the US, and according to the CDC data, out of these 4,064 were from pneumonia or influenza.
The activity of the flue is still on the rise, as are the deaths after the influenza, and there is fear that in the future weeks, the death toll could grow even higher. There is also a rising number of hospitalizations which has already near the total numbers typically viewed at the end of a flu season.
“Unfortunately, more deaths are likely to happen,” Schuchat said. “Over the next few weeks, we do expect and it would make sense to see more pneumonia and influenza-related deaths. The people who are likely to die are already in the hospital.”
(Adapted from Livemimt.com)