This flu season is especially bad

The 2017-18 flu season has been one of the harshest and deadliest in nearly 10 years.

“Unfortunately, it looks like this flu season continues to be particularly challenging. Our latest tracking data indicate that influenza activity is still on the rise overall. In fact, we may be on track to beat some recent records,” said Anne Schuchat, acting director of the federal Center for Disease Control. She was speaking during a teleconference on Friday, Feb. 9.

The situation in California is no better. The state Department of Public Health advises that influenza activity is decreasing, but elevated in California. But 22 more deaths occurred between Feb. 3 and 10 (the latest report).

Nationwide, 22 pediatric deaths from flu were reported during this period. The number of flu- and pneumonia-related deaths throughout the U.S. was 9.8 percent of total deaths during the final week of January, which is above the threshold of the 7.3-percent level for epidemic levels.

For the flu season, 185 deaths have occurred in California, one-third in the five most southern counties of Imperial, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange

The percentage of visits to physician offices declined during this week but remain well above the historical average for this time in the season.

Schuchat, in a teleconference, advised people to get flu vaccines if they have not already.

“But flu is incredibly difficult to predict, and we don’t know if we’ve hit the peak yet. In the past five seasons, influenza-like Illness has been elevated for between 11 and


20 weeks, and we’re only at week 11 now, so we could potentially see several more weeks of activity,” she said.

Although there is some skepticism regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine, CDC reported Friday, Feb. 16, that its effectiveness was 36 percent, higher than achieved in either Australia or Canada. The CDC continues to recommend that all individuals older than six months get a flu vaccine.

In the study, about three-quarters of the participants over age 65 have been vaccinated and about 37 percent of the participants still tested positive for influenza. The only group with better results was children between ages six months and 8 years. About half received vaccinations and nearly two-thirds tested negative for the flu virus.