Influenza is hitting the US unusually early and hard, resulting in the most hospitalisations at this point in the season in more than a decade and underscoring the potential for a perilous winter of respiratory viruses, a state media outlet last week cited federal health data.
“While flu season is usually between October and May, peaking in December and January, it’s arrived about six weeks earlier this year with uncharacteristically high illness,” said the report.
There have already been at least 880,000 cases of influenza illness, 6,900 hospitalisations and 360 flu-related deaths nationally, including one child, according to estimates released on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Xinhua news agency reported.
“Not since the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic has there been such a high burden of flu, a metric the CDC uses to estimate a season’s severity based on laboratory-confirmed cases, doctor visits, hospitalisations and deaths,” the report added.
Activity is high in the US south and southeast, and is starting to move up the Atlantic coast, it said.