Almost every state feels the misery as flu season takes hold

- Kim Painter

With flu season now in full swing — causing widespread illness in 46 states — health officials across the country are reporting waves of misery, rising hospitaliz­ations and some deaths.

It is still too soon to say just how bad this flu season will be, but there are troubling signs in some places:

The Ohio Department of Health on Friday reported 2,104 flu-associated hospitaliz­ations so far, up from 369 by the same time a year ago.

California Department of Public Health officials said that flu contribute­d to the deaths of 27 people younger than age 65 across the state by the end of December, up from four deaths a year ago.

In California’s Santa Barbara County, six people over age 65 died of the flu in the past two weeks; that’s double the number who died in last year’s entire flu season, officials said.

A pregnant woman died from the flu in Tennessee, the fourth flu death this year, officials said. The three other deaths were children.

The federal Centers for Disease Control, in an update Friday, said 13 children nationwide had died as a result of the flu this season. About 100 children have died in each of the past several flu seasons.

The season got off to an early start, and the number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from

36 to 46 in the last week of December, the CDC said.

One reason this season could be bad: A majority of patients who have been tested carried a type of influenza virus, H3N2CQ, that is linked to increased hospitaliz­ations and deaths in children and people over age 65, the CDC said. Vaccines often are less effective against these viruses than other flu viruses. But the CDC and flu experts say vaccinatio­n is still the best bet, and it’s not too late for a flu shot.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States