Flu Reaches Epidemic Level in U.S., Says CDC

The death toll from a flu outbreak gripping the United States has reached epidemic levels, the CDC director said Friday.

Though the spread of influenza across the country seems to have slowed in some areas, officials won’t know for weeks whether the cases have peaked. Photo: Lance McCord/Flickr

The fly has officially reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with 7.3 percent of deaths last week caused by pneumonia and the flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

According to CDC’s flu advisory report for Dec 30 through Jan 5, over 100 people have already died from the the disease with 24 states and New York City reporting high levels of flu activity.

That’s down from 29 states the previous week, Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC told CNN.

“Most of the country is seeing or has seen a lot of flu. Only time will tell us how long our season will last or how moderate or severe it will be,” Frieden continued.

“… We are into what would classically be described as a flu epidemic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, added. “It’s still on the uptick.”

“The only area of the country that’s still relatively unaffected … is the far West Coast,” although plenty of cases have been reported there, Dr. Joseph Bresee, head of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of the CDC’s Influenza Division, said Friday.

As the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports, spread of the flu across the country appears to have slowed in some areas.

However, the number of states suffering the disease, increased to 47 from 41. The only states without widespread activity are California, Hawaii and Mississippi.

“Widespread” means that more than 50% of geographic regions in a state – counties, for example – are reporting flu activity. It addresses the spread of the flu, not its severity,” Frieden told reporters.

“Bottom line: It’s flu season.” He went on, adding that flu activity is “elevated” in most of the country, he said, and “it may be decreasing in some areas, but that’s hard to predict … influenza activity ebbs and flows.”

Officials will know in the next couple of weeks whether the season has peaked, he said. “The only thing predictable about the flu is, it’s unpredictable.”

“… We are into what would classically be described as a flu epidemic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, reported on Thursday. “It’s still on the uptick,” he said.

“Remember, once it peaks, you still have a considerable amount of time where there is a lot of flu activity, and right now it may have peaked in some places, but for the most part, it has not yet peaked,” Fauci said.

The CDC suggests people to prevent the illness bytaking the flu vaccine which is about 62% effective.

Vaccine manufacturers reported on Thursday that there is plenty of vaccine for those who want to get a flu shot.

You may have to check in several places to find the vaccine, because most of the more than 130 million doses that were produced by vaccine manufacturers this year have already been given,” confirmed Frieden.

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