Million People Have Already Been Sick With the Flu Says CDC

Henrietta Brewer
January 14, 2019

The 2018-2019 flu season is fully underway, and millions of people are already affected by it. Photocopier buttons are rarely wiped down and usually a hotbed mashup of several types of germs that can make you ill.

Agency officials are providing the estimates for the first time during flu season as a way to underscore the risks of serious complications of the respiratory virus and to encourage people to get vaccinated. Designing the correct immunization against flu means guessing which strain or strains will be the big ones, and then making an effective deterrent.

A new study, led by the Computational Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at Boston Children's Hospital, combines two forecasting methods with machine learning (artificial intelligence) to estimate local flu activity.

Flu figures only reflect cases in which people sought medical attention and were tested.

The weekly flu report published Friday by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that from Dec. 30 to January 5, lab-confirmed influenza cases are down from the week prior, suggesting the flu season may have reached its peak during the last week of December.

The preliminary figures released Friday don't include estimates of flu-related deaths, which officials said will be provided at a later time, when there is sufficient data to support a more precise estimate.

At this point last flu season, a total of 11,275 cases of lab-confirmed flu had been reported. It also showed 95 children have been admitted to intensive care units as a result of the virus, most under the age of 10.

Six people have died from the flu in Saskatchewan so far, with three of those victims being children less than six years old.

According to a recent report, less than a quarter of USA adults are aware that having certain chronic health conditions can make a person more likely to develop complications from the flu.

"Last year was a high-severity season", she said.

Flu season is not over, and it's not too late to get vaccinated, Fry said.

In Illinois, reported influenza illnesses for this year are trending far below last year, when flulike illnesses peaked in mid- to late December with more than 6 percent of patients visiting physicians with those symptoms, Arnold said.

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