The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 27 children have died from the flu so far this season, recording the highest number of pediatric flu deaths at this time of the year.
The CDC has been tracking pediatric flu deaths since 2003.
During the 2017-18 flu season, the CDC reported 13 pediatric flu deaths, which was one of the worst flu seasons at this point of the year. However, overall, 187 children died from the flu by the end of the 2017-18 season, making it one of the most deadly flu seasons.
According to experts, this flu season is notoriously unpredictable and it has already shown a cause of concern because it started early and does not seem to have reached its peak. The experts said it is unclear when cases will start going down.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN, “Hopefully, this turns around and comes down, but if it continues on the trajectory it’s on, it’s not going to be good.”
The CDC found that the percentage of people visiting the PCP for flu-like symptoms increased from 5 percent to 7 percent in the last couple of weeks of December. “This uptick in flu-related visits could be due, in part, to a decrease in routine doctor visits for other conditions during the holidays,” the CDC said.
The data suggest that there is a high flu activity.
The experts said this flu season has been dominated by influenza B, a type of flu virus, which is quite unusual. Typically, influenza B does not give rise to as many cases as influenza A strains, such as H1N1 and H3N2. Also, influenza B shows up later in the season. However, a 2012 study has found that influenza B could be more fatal to children than adults.
Influenza B remains the dominant strain in this year’s flu season; however, influenza A cases have started to increase.
So far, in this season, there have been more than “6.4 million flu-related illnesses, 55,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths from the flu,” according to the CDC. Nevertheless, the CDC has urged people to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine offers protection against both the strains of the virus. The agency recommends a flu shot to everyone aged six months and above.