Kentucky flu season death toll reaches 100; still on rise


"Unfortunately, it looks like this flu season continues to be particularly challenging", said Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This year's unsafe flu season shows no sign of waning, and "may be on track to break some recent records".

Outpatient visits to hospitals and emergency departments by patients with influenza-like illness have now reached levels not seen since the 2009 season, Schuchat said.

State Health Commissioner Kris Box said Friday there are no signs Indiana's current severe flu season has peaked.

"As of this week, we have more hospitalizations than we have seen in any recent season including severe 2014-2015 season", Schuchat said.

The amount of influenza ravaging the USA this year rivals levels normally seen when an altogether new virus emerges, decimating a vulnerable population that hasn't had a chance to develop any defences.

Last week, 43 states had high patient traffic for the flu, up from 42, the CDC reported.

Of the 167 people who have died across the state, 13 have died in Marion County; 5 in Morgan County; 5 in Tippecanoe County; 9 in Hamilton County; and 6 in Shelby County.

Among adults, the proportion of pneumonia- and influenza-related deaths climbed to 10.1% of all deaths reported during the week ending January 20 (these data are always two weeks delayed).

Outbreaks in schools are reported whenever flu-like symptoms result in more than 5 percent absenteeism, or more than three elementary school students from the same classroom to be out sick.

Hospitals and urgent care centers are also slammed - with influenza widespread in every state except OR and Hawaii. In particular, the strain influenza A H3N2, which has caused the most illness so far this season, is hard to contain through vaccination. The CDC said this is the highest rate in recent years and a level not seen since the swine flu pandemic nine years ago.

"The previously recorded high for that was 7.6 percent for a non-pandemic year in 2003-2004", Schuchat said.

"The virus may also reduce the severity of symptoms of you catch the flu in spite of being vaccinated".

The season has been dominated by the H3N2 flu strain, which usually is more virulent, but the virus itself doesn't seem to be much different from previous H3N2 strains.

In past severe years, Schuchat said roughly 34 million Americans contracted the flu. Those groups include young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with heart or lung disease. Flu season may not end until May.