This year’s sweeping flu season may be starting to wind down, but activity is still high throughout the country, according to the CDC’s latest update.
The percentage of people seeing doctors for flu-related symptoms dropped from 7.4% of all visits last week to 6.4% this week — a rate still well above average rates in the U.S., but the first noticeable dip of the season, according to CDC data.
However, 13 more pediatric deaths were reported on Friday, bringing the season’s total to nearly 100. With weeks of flu season potentially still to go, that number is likely to climb higher.
Illness and hospitalization rates also remain high, with most of the continental U.S. reporting widespread flu activity. CDC officials have said that by season’s end, hospital admissions are likely to exceed the 710,000 seen during the high-severity flu season of 2014-2015, which likely means elevated death rates as well. Nearly 10% of deaths recorded during the week ending Feb. 3, for example, were attributable to the flu, Friday’s report says.
H3N2, the severe influenza strain dominating most of this season, is to blame for those sobering statistics, according to the CDC. Vaccines were only 25% effective against the virus subtype this year, according to CDC reports, and the strain results in more frequent and serious infections.