Millions of Americans Have Gotten the Flu So Far This Season

(Bloomberg) -- Influenza sickened up to 7.3 million people in the U.S. and landed as many as 83,500 in the hospital through Jan. 5, according to the first-ever estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of how many Americans have been infected in the middle of the season.

  • Doctor visits for influenza and the number of states with widespread disease both declined during the first week of the year, with deaths from pneumonia and influenza remaining below the seasonal baseline, the CDC said in a separate report.

Key Insights

  • Because it’s the the first time the agency has released incidence numbers in the middle of a flu season, which usually begins in October, there’s no comparison with previous years. The CDC plans to update the in-season estimates each Friday to help Americans understand the severity of the virus.
  • About half of those who have contracted the flu this season, or 2.9 million to 3.5 million people, have seen a doctor because of the condition.
  • Last season, 80,000 people died from the flu, including 180 children.
  • The CDC still urges Americans to get vaccinated against influenza, which will continue to spread for several more months.

Digging Deeper

  • There were high levels of influenza circulating in 15 states and New York City during the first week of the year, down from 19 states and NYC at the end of 2018. The number of states with minimal activity rose to 15, from 12 a week earlier.
  • The number of doctor’s office visits attributed to the flu or similar ailments declined to 3.5 percent of all outpatient appointments, from 4.1 percent.

Know More

  • The flu remains most active across the southern half of the U.S., where it typically first emerges, and is spreading north and west.
  • Sixteen children have died so far this season from influenza, a number that will increase as more reports make it to the CDC.

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