Flu Hits Up to 7M So Far; Half Needed Medical Care

By Sun, Lena H. | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), January 12, 2019 | Go to article overview

Flu Hits Up to 7M So Far; Half Needed Medical Care


Sun, Lena H., The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


Flu has sickened between 6 and 7 million people in the United States so far this season, sending about half of them to the doctor for fever, chills and other influenza symptoms, according to new estimates released Friday by federal health officials.

Of those who sought medical care, 69,000 to 84,000 people have been hospitalized, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Agency officials are providing the estimates for the first time during flu season as a way to underscore the risks of serious complications of the respiratory virus and to encourage people to vaccinated. In the past, CDC provided these estimates at the end of each flu season.

"We decided that this year, we would try to release these preliminary numbers of illnesses each week so that we could give people a better picture, said Alicia Fry, who heads CDC's epidemiology and prevention branch in the influenza division. CDC releases a report each week on seasonal influenza in the United States, with detailed graphs and charts. But until Friday, the reports did not provide data on how many people have gotten sick, gone to the doctor, been hospitalized or died. The agency released that information at the end of each season after analyzing the data.

The preliminary figures released Friday don't include estimates of flu-related deaths, which officials said will be provided at a later time, when there is sufficient data to support a more precise estimate.

CDC officials hope these estimates, which they plan to update weekly, will help get out their public health message.

Flu season is not over, and it's not too late to get vaccinated, Fry said. …

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