Though flu activity is still high and widespread across much of the United States and five more children have died from flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today that hospitalization rates and the percentage of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza remain low compared with past seasons.

So far this season, CDC estimates at least 9.7 million flu illnesses, 87,000 hospitalizations, and 4,800 deaths from flu.

“This is likely due to the predominance of influenza B/Victoria and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses which are more likely to affect children and younger adults than the elderly,” the CDC said in its weekly FluView report. “Because the majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur among people age 65 and older, with fewer illnesses among that group, we expect, on a population level, to see less impact in flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.”

This week’s FluView also shows a dip in influenza-like illness (ILI) outpatient visits, from 7.0% last week to the 5.8%. The CDC said this is likely because patients did not visit healthcare professionals over the holidays, and said it is too early to interpret the decrease in ILI as a sign flu has already peaked.

Thirty-three states reported high ILI in the first week of January, with flu widespread in 46 states and Puerto Rico. In the previous week, 34 states had high ILI activity and 45 states noted widespread flu.

Credit: iStock, kokouu

CDC warns of toll on children

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See also:

Jan 10 CDC FluView

Jan 10 CDC HAN advisory