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The 2018 Flu Season Is Already a Deadly One

Article source:Station editor Update time:2018-11-22 11:11:56   Browsing times:second

The 2018 flu season is shaping up to be bad—potentially the worst one since 2014-2015, which was “the most severe season in recent years,” as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says in its latest flu outbreak update.

“The number of jurisdictions experiencing high activity went from 21 states to 26 states and New York City and the number of states reporting widespread activity went from 36 to 46,” wrote the public health agency in a recent post. “Influenza-like illness (ILI) went from 4.9% to 5.8%. ‎These indicators are similar to what was seen at the peak of the 2014-2015 season, which was the most severe season in recent years.” In some states, like California, emergency rooms have already been overwhelmed with people suffering from the flu.
Why the 2018 flu outbreak could be especially deadly?
There are a number of factors driving the current flu season, which is already being called “moderately severe” by health officials and has yet to peak (February is usually when flu season is worst). For one thing, it’s been a particularly cold winter in many parts of the U.S., which makes for a more resilient and longer-lingering influenza virus.
And then there’s the matter of the current flu vaccine. It’s unclear if the flu shot will match last year’s effectiveness of about 39%; some estimates have pegged this year’s vaccine’s effectiveness at closer to 30%, although the final numbers will remain unknown until the end of flu season, which can last through May. The flu vaccine is typically somewhere between 40% and 60% effective since scientists have to use some guesswork as to the strains that will be floating around before mass producing the vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands die from the flu in any given year, and the young, old, and immune-compromised are at the highest risk.