CDC Says Flu Season Appears To Have Peaked, But Activity Levels Still High

It appears the United States has gotten through one of the worst flu season s in recent memory. New data from the CDC shows that hospitalization rates from flu-related cases are on the decline.  ( David McNew | Getty Images )

New data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the deadly flu season in the United States has reached its peak, but it doesn’t mean everything is going to be okay.

The transmission is still intense, and cases from a strain typically surging late during the season are rising.

“The amount of activity is still very high,” said Daniel Jernigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu division director, as The Wall Street Journal reports. “There are still many weeks left of this flu season — probably through mid-April.”

Has The Flu Season Reached Its Peak?

The proportion of hospital visits for flu-like symptoms was 6.4 percent by Feb. 17, which was less than the previous week’s 7.5 percent, CDC said. Hospitalization and deaths from flu-related cases also declined.

According to laboratory tests, influenza A strains are on the decline, while influenza B strains are still on the rise. However, illnesses caused by influenza B typically aren’t as many as that of influenza A, according to Jernigan.

This year’s flu season has seen the highest hospitalization and death rates in recent years. One of the main reasons is weak vaccine against the influenza. Experts say they hope the vaccine for next year’s flu season will be stronger and more efficient in treating patients with the flu.

“It looks like we may have reached the peak of flu season,” said Kristin Nordlund, a spokesperson for CDC. Echoing Jernigan, she said, “[W]e still have many more weeks of flu season to go.”

The flu remains persistent in the entire country, save for Oregon and Hawaii.

Flu Season In The United States

While recent numbers show an “encouraging” decline rate, the CDC is still not officially declaring that the flu season has peaked. That will take a few more weeks of keen observation, as there are still many deaths occurring.

Last week, 13 children died because of flu-related illnesses, bringing this season’s total to 97. It’s expected to push past the 148 pediatric death count reported in the 2014 to 2015 flu season, which remains the most severe strain in recent years.

Flu seasons typically last for 16 weeks, but because the United States is now in its 14th week, the CDC says that this year’s flu season will last longer than usual. So it still recommends that people get flu shots.

Evidence shows that vaccination has been 36 percent effective at preventing flu cases, and 25 percent effective against the predominant H2N3 influenza strain this season. It’s also been more effective on children, according to CDC.

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