Second Wave of Flu Hits U.S., Worst Season for Children in a Decade
This flu season also started the earliest in 15 years, with an influx of flu-like sicknesses seen as early as October in parts of the South.
A second wave of the flu has hit the United States, making it one of the worst flu seasons for children in a decade.
The number of child deaths and hospitalizations are the highest at this point in any flu season since 2009-10, health officials said Friday.
“We have not yet peaked for influenza. We are still on our way up,” said Dr. David Weber, a University of North Carolina infectious-diseases specialist.
The second surge started in late January and last week saw another rise in the percentage of doctor’s visits for flu-like illnesses, reports AP. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 26 million Americans have gotten the flu this year. About 25,000 have been hospitalized and 14,000 have died.
According to experts, it is a particularly bad time for an extended flu season due to concerns about the coronavirus, which can cause symptoms similar to the flu and can be difficult to distinguish without testing. Only 15 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S. and no deaths have been reported.
This flu season also started the earliest in 15 years, with surges of flu-like sicknesses seen as early as October in parts of the South. Most cases were caused by the type of flu usually seen in the spring, at the tail end of the flu season. That wave peaked in late December and dropped steadily for weeks until the latest surge.
The strand of flu behind both waves are particularly taxing on children and young adults, which is good news for the elderly who make up the majority of flu hospitalizations and deaths.
The CDC’s Lynnette Brammer said the overall death and hospitalization rates this season are not high “because we haven’t seen the elderly as involved in this flu season.” However, 92 flu-related deaths have been reported in children — a higher number at this point of the year than in any season in the past decade.
The CDC is expected to release its estimate next week on how effective this year’s flu vaccine has been.
To stop the spread of the flu in schools, the CDC encourages children, parents, and staff to:
- Stay home when you are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects
You can find more detailed information on the CDC’s website.