Two children die from the flu in Wichita

Two children die from the flu in Wichita

Over the past few weeks, the CDC has seen increased influenza-like illness activity, more hospitalizations, and more flu associated deaths in children and adults.

Although this would normally not cause civilians any alarm, it so happens that this flu season has been touted as one of the worst ones as of late.

Nationwide, the CDC reports an additional 16 flu-related pediatric deaths as of the end of last week, bringing the total number of children killed this year by the flu to 53. 95 deaths in our state have been attributed to the flu so far, and the season is still gaining intensity. Of those, 1,541 cases have been reported in Lehigh County, up from 1,185 last week, and 2,343 in Northampton County, up from 1,636 last week.

According to the North Carolina Influenza Surveillance Summary, at the beginning of January, about 3% of hospital visits were from people reporting influenza-like illness.

"It's a pretty severe influenza season, probably the worst in 10 years", said Dr. Tom Safranek, Nebraska's state epidemiologist.

Although the H3N2 virus is the dominant influenza strain this year, other viruses, including H1N1 and influenza B are causing illness as well. "The peak is at different points in different years and so this we, of course, do not know if we have hit the peak yet".

Two children die from the flu in Wichita
Two children die from the flu in Wichita

That's a bit unnerving, considering many times that number of people are expected to attend the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl victory parade Thursday. The strain of influenza can lead to pneumonia or other fatal complications in people with weakened or developing immune systems. That year, the CDC estimates 34 million Americans got the flu, with more than 700,000 hospitalized. All can be signs of an underlying bacterial infection.

Dr. Gonzalo Bearman chairs the department of infectious diseases at the VCU Medical Center.

Some schools are shutting down for days at a time to stop the spread. "The types of symptoms we're seeing - dry cough, muscle ache, fevers, headaches, quick onset of the symptoms", he explained.

In one Atlanta, Georgia, suburb, 50 school bus drivers and monitors called in sick, forcing staff at the Coal Mountain Elementary School in Cumming to drive the buses to get children to school, officials said. It means that it reduces your chance of getting the flu by one-third.

The flu remains categorized as "widespread" by the department, meaning at least half the regions in the state have outbreaks of the flu. It is suggested that it is best to take anti-flu shots as a precaution to avoid getting sick entirely, but it is highly recommended that people take shots as opposed to nasal spray flu vaccine. But here in eastern North Carolina, Fischer says there's still plenty of the vaccine and antiviral to go around.

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