A second wave of influenza hits the United States making the current season one of the worst for children in a decade.
The number of child deaths and the hospitalization rate for children are the highest recorded on this date for any season since the severe 2009-2010 influenza outbreak, health officials said Friday. And the surge could last weeks.
Experts say it is perhaps a bad time for a long season of influenza due to concerns caused by the new coronavirus that emerged in China, whose symptoms are difficult to distinguish from influenza without clinical analysis.
If the coronavirus began to spread in the United States, there could be confusion as to whether people got it or the flu, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.
The current influenza season had its earliest start in 15 years, because since October, cases of influenza-like diseases in regions of the southern United States increased. Most of the infections corresponded to a type of flu that usually affects a considerable number of people only in the spring, at the end of the influenza season.
Infections during that wave reached their highest level at the end of December and then steadily declined in subsequent weeks.
However, a second wave was presented at the end of January. Last week the percentage of visits to the doctor for flu-like illnesses increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We have not yet reached the highest level of influenza cases. We are still on the rise, ”said Dr. David Weber, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina, referring to the transit of patients in Chapel Hill.
According to CDC projections, about 26 million Americans have fallen ill with influenza this fall-winter, with 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths.