Flu Trending Downward, But Still Hitting Elderly Hard

Source: USA Today

By: Weise, Elizabeth


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seeing declines in flu-like illnesses across the country, says this year’s flu season appears to be lessening, though it is not over yet. “Maybe there’s not as many people out there who are sick but flu is still all over,” said Lyn Finelli, chief of influenza surveillance at the CDC. “We have 31 states that have flu in every corner of their state.” The CDC said that this year’s flu season hit early, affecting the East Coast hard around the end of December—nearly a month earlier than usual—but the season is winding down earlier as well. One indicator for the CDC that the flu season has begun is when over 2.2 percent of all doctor visits in the country are for influenza-like illnesses. According to the CDC’s FluView report, 3.2 percent of all recent doctor visits were for flu-like illness, down from 4.2 percent in the previous week. The rate in the last week of December was 5.6 percent. Finelli said that the elderly are being hospitalized at “dramatically high rates” this season. Whereas usually 30 to 40 senior citizens are hospitalized per 100,000 in the population during flu season, this year the figure is about 140 per 100,000. She noted that this year’s flu strains include H3N2, which can be particularly hard on older people, and that, unlike with younger people, individuals over age 65 may not have a fever with their flu. “The elderly need to be aware that they don’t necessarily get a fever when they get influenza,” she said. “So when seniors have a cough, body and muscle aches or headaches and they just feel really knocked out, they need to call their doctors and get in and get treated.”

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