This year’s flu season has now reached the epidemic threshold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 children have died from influenza in the United States, with the number of states reporting “high” flu activity climbing from 13 to 22 in a single week.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– CDC Flu Division”]
Right now, all of the CDC’s influenza surveillance systems are showing elevated activity.
It has been an unusually bad year for the flu vaccine, with just over half the strains tested not covered by the vaccine. This is largely due to a mutated strain that was not being spread when the vaccine was created, according to the Washington Post.
Officials reported 837 flu and pneumonia deaths to the CDC during the 51st week of the year, which account for 6.8% of the 12,358 total deaths that week, just reaching the 6.8% threshold required to be considered an epidemic.
Officials reported the deaths through the CDC’s 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System, which as nine regions. 151 deaths were reported in the area that includes cities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, while 147 flu and pneumonia deaths were reported in the Pacific region. The fewest deaths, 42, were reported in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The number of children killed by the flu spiked in 2013, with 171 deaths reported in the 2012/2013 season. Older people are typically the worst affected, with flu-related hospitalizations for people 65 and older reaching 38.3 per 100,000 this year.
A 17-year-old girl, Shannon Zwanziger of Minnesota, was among the children killed by the flu this season. Shannon was rarely sick and came home with the flu, dying one week later when her liver gave out. An autopsy confirmed Shannon had type A flu, according to CNN.