At a time when the flu season is typically coming to a close, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that the number of cases and related medical visits continue to be elevated.
Flu season typically ranges from November to March, with flu-like illness peaking in February, the CDC said.
The incidence of patients testing positive for the flu virus influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B are slightly increased for the most recent three-week period, with influenza A(H3) reported more frequently, according to the federal agency.
Forty-four states are still reporting high levels of flu activity. Influenza-like illnesses have been at or above the baseline for 17 weeks this season, the CDC said, adding that it expects this flu season to be a long one and continues to recommend both influenza vaccination and influenza antiviral drugs as a "second line of defense" when illness hits.
All commercially available flu vaccines in the United States are made by private manufacturers, and collaborative efforts continue between manufacturers and the federal government, according to the CDC.
Infographic courtesy of the CDC.
Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY) is a French multinational pharmaceutical company and the world's largest manufacturer of the flu vaccine. The company's stock was up 1.07 percent at $44.26 at the close Thursday.
Study investigators at Sanofi concluded that "in children ages 6 to 35 months, vaccination with two full doses of IIV4 can protect against influenza and reduces the frequency of severe outcomes of influenza, and thereby reduce the burden of influenza in young children, their parents and the health care system."
While not meant to be a substitute for the flu vaccine, antiviral medications like Tamiflu — a prescription drug that was FDA-approved in 1999, — can be helpful in ameliorating flu-like symptoms in people in the first few days of infection, the CDC said.
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