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CDC: Influenza killed 80,000 people last year in USA

From WN

Federal health officials warned people across the United States more than 80,000 people died during the flu season during winter 2017 through 2018, the highest number in more than a decade, according to The New York Times.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last week nearly 90 percent of those deaths were people over the age of 65, but the flu also killed nearly 200 teenagers, children, and babies, more than in any other year since the CDC started keeping records with its current surveillance methods.

The estimates were released at a news conference held by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to call on Americans to get the flu vaccine early in the season and to dismiss some of the common misconceptions about the vaccines.

Officials said the high mortality rate was not unusual since it was caused not by a new strain, but a more severe flu season.

The CDC said during the 2009-2010 flu season there was the swine flu epidemic which infected 59 million Americans in the spring, but only killed 12,000 people since the strain was mild.

Flu hospitalizations were the highest they’ve ever been during 2017 with 106 out of every 100,000 people who were hospitalized with the flu.

People over the age of 65 made up 58 percent of those hospitalizations and 180 pediatric deaths.

Officials also reminded the public while the flu and the common cold seem similar, they are caused by different viruses and colds are usually milder and don’t develop into pneumonia or require hospitalizations.

Last year’s flu vaccine was only 40 percent effective at preventing infection, nearly the same as the previous season, but the dominant strain, H3N2 flu, is, unfortunately, one of the most deadly of the four seasonal flu strains which circulate.

Vaccine effectiveness can alter year by year, including a recent low of 19 percent in 2014-15 and a high of 60 percent in 2010-11.

Officials said while it’s impossible to know how effective this year’s vaccine will be, it’s still wise to get the imperfect shots to ward off the physical symptoms of body aches and fevers, not to mention avoiding the worst outcome of the flu – death.

Manufacturers of the flu vaccine decide what strains to put into the shots in February in order for them to be prepared to be sent out during early in the flu season in September.

Even though the flu season only lasts for several months, the flu virus can be detected at any point throughout the year, which is why health officials said it was important to know the symptoms of the flu.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated every year as a primary source of defense, but people who are moderately or severely ill should wait to recover before receiving the shot.

The CDC suggested everyone receive their flu vaccine before the end of October so the body has the two-week period to build up an immune response to the vaccine before flu season is at its peak.

Flu symptoms can vary from person to person but can include fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, headaches, and fatigue.

Patients who develop severe symptoms, such as confusion or difficulty breathing, should immediately receive medical attention, along with any children who develop bluish skin, who aren’t eating or refuse to wake up., Maureen Foody

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