Flu Attacking Elderly at Historically High Rates

Thankfully, Florida residents are being affected minimally with the flu in comparison to the rest of the country. We are, though, still seeing flu cases, and it is incredibly important to be seen by a doctor if you start to experience flu like symptoms. Thanks for visiting Advocare, enjoy reading.

There are currently three main flu strains circulating nationwide. H3N2 is the predominant one. It appears to be especially dangerous for the elderly.

Although the flu is beginning to wane nationally, it is sickening and killing seniors at rates “higher than we’ve ever seen,” a CDC flu expert says.

Last week, people older than 65 who died from a laboratory-confirmed case of influenza died at a rate of 116 per 100,000.

“We’ve kept rates since 2005 and we have never seen a rate this high,” said Michael Jhung, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The highest we’ve ever seen in was 90 per 100,000.”

He expects those numbers to go higher still. Hospitalization — and, in some cases, death — follows several weeks after a person first gets sick.

“We’ve still got several weeks of the season yet, so it’s going to be much worse” before it’s over, he said. “The deaths are still accumulating.”

Each year, between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans die from influenza-related causes, the CDC estimates. So far this season, 45 children have died as a result of the flu. Numbers for adults won’t be available until the flu season ends. The virus is surging in the West but is waning nationally:

  • 9.4% of deaths reported in CDC’s 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to pneumonia and influenza as of Jan. 26. That’s well above the epidemic threshold of 7.2% but down from 9.8% a week earlier.
  • The proportion of people visiting the doctor for influenza-like illness was 4.2% of all doctor visits, down from 4.3%the week before, CDC’s FluView report showed. On average, the number is usually 2.2%.
  • Flu remains “elevated” nationwide; 42 states reported widespread influenza activity last week and seven reported localized activity, CDC said. The previous week, 47 states had widespread activity.

Influenza is always more dangerous to people 65 and older, but it is worse this year because the prevalent flu strain — H3N2 — is especially dangerous to older people. “We haven’t seen H3 viruses predominate like they are this year since the 2004-2005 season,” Jhung said. Because of that, people have little immunity unless they were vaccinated this year.

“It has come out from under a rock and it’s now dominant because there is a larger population of susceptible people,” said William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

It’s not too late to get vaccinated, Jhung said.

Someone who begins to feel sick should contact a doctor quickly. Antiviral drugs, taken within 48 hours of the onset of the flu, are helpful in preventing complications and keeping people out of the hospital, he said.

Continue reading HERE. There is also a great graphic to look at how all of the states are faring. Thank you for visiting Advocare, serving the South Florida areas of Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and other surrounding areas.

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