17.8 million sick: Flu takes hold of USA

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With the flu season still in full swing, as many as 17.8 million people — including 2 million more within the last week — have fallen sick with influenza since October in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls a “low-severity” season, officials said Friday.

Despite a milder season this year, the CDC warns that flu activity this week is the highest it has been all season and urges individuals to get a flu vaccine, use everyday preventive actions, and to use antivirals as recommended.

Influenza is “widespread” geographically in Puerto Rico and 48 states, meaning cases were reported in more than half the regions of the state, according to the CDC.

The flu is blamed for 11,600 – 19,100 deaths, with up to 221,000 hospitalizations and up to 8.4 million flu medical visits. The CDC says there have been 34 pediatric deaths this season.

The CDC found, however, lower percentage of outpatient visits, lower rates of hospitalization and fewer deaths attributed to pneumonia and flu compared with recent years.

Last flu season, which stretches from October to the end of May, an estimated 49 million Americans got sick, 23 million sought medical care and 960,000 were hospitalized.


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