Flu season unpredictable after early start; patients seeing long waits at hospitals

Kenny Tucker
January 13, 2018

And some hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area are limiting visitors under the age of 16 as a precaution, since young people can be more vulnerable to effects of the flu.

Three people have died from flu-related deaths this season, according to the Lake County General Health District.

The current flu season claimed 25 lives in IN by December 30, with the Center for Disease Control reporting a sharp increase in influenza activity on a national level during the last week of the year. "If we look at similar seasons, there's at least 11 to 13 more weeks of influenza to go".

Not only that, but "there is also a rapid rise in the number of people being hospitalized for laboratory-confirmed flu", Jernigan said.

Official effectiveness data on this season's flu vaccine will not be available until the middle of next month.

So far, 20 children have died from the flu, compared with a total of 101 last season. The flu season is typically at its worst around February.

He also noted that it's not yet clear how effective this year's vaccine has been, particularly with the A strain.

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"Most of the in-patients are here for medical reasons other than the flu", Dossey said.

The London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds branches we spoke to said they were completely out of stock, and could not confirm when new supplies would be received.

In a report released Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health says influenza-like illness is widespread throughout the state, comprising 6.94 percent of the cases seen by outpatient providers and 4.62 percent of those appearing as the chief complaint in emergency departments.

The vaccine may be less effective against H3N2 strains because it's manufactured in chicken eggs, which some recent research has shown interact with H3 strains, making them less like the circulating strain and therefore less effective. "There's lots of flu in lots of places", says Dan Jernigan, director of CDC's influenza division.

"Rather than them getting ill in February or March, they've been getting ill in December and January", he said. That strain tends to make more people sick, and the people who get the flu tend to get sicker.

For more on the flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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