Medicine

CDC: Greater than six million individuals have had flu this season

CDC: Greater than six million individuals have had flu this season

Notably, in the comparable report a year ago the CDC described influenza activity as "increased", which was not a word used in the weekly FluView tracking data for the week ending January 5 this year. Compare that to the same time previous year, and it was about 30 per 100,000 cases.

The CDC hasn't released data on the total number of deaths so far this season, saying 16 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported nationwide to the agency this season.

Health officials recommend Hoosiers protect their families by getting a flu shot if they haven't already and to take precautions, including frequent hand-washing and covering their mouths when coughing. This year, the annual epidemic is unfolding more slowly than it did last year.

The dominant flu strain during the last season, H3N2, has been linked with severe disease and death, particularly among children and the elderly.

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The CDC has no estimate of deaths so far this season, partly because it's so early. The CDC says between 69,000 and 84,000 people have been hospitalized due to the flu, and the overall hospitalization rate is about 9 per 100,000 cases. Even if someone gets sick with flu, antiviral drugs may be an option, she said, especially for people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, including young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

The CDC recommends flu vaccinations to decrease the risk of contracting the virus and its possibly deadly side effects.

Experts say it's not too late to reap the benefits of a flu vaccine.

Flu infections are on the rise across the United States. "Year in and year out, people who get a flu vaccine are better off than people who do not get vaccinated", the CDC said.