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Flu season: Animated map shows spread of deadly flu in US — get a shot



cdc flu map dec 24-30, 2017
Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC)



  • The flu is quickly spreading across the United States,
    with 26 states and New York City now reporting high flu levels
    in outpatient clinics.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention, 13 kids have died from the flu so far this season,
    while in California, dozens of adults under 65 have been
    killed.
  • This year’s flu shot isn’t as effective against a
    strain of the illness known as H3N2, but there is still good
    reason to get it.

Flu season is raging across the country, and clinics are filling
up with people suffering from fevers, chills, and other symptoms.

In December, the flu gave Californians a deadly pounding — the
virus has killed 27 people under the age of 65 there. The
majority of those victims were unvaccinated adults, the
California Department of Public Health told Business Insider.

The
Los Angeles Times
reports that pharmacies there are running
out of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, which can make the sickness
shorter and milder.

“This season is nasty and really picked up at the end of
December,” Dave Osthus, lead investigator on the flu project at
Los Alamos National Laboratory, told Business Insider in an
email.

This year’s flu path started in the southeastern US in October
before spreading to the West Coast, as shown in this animated
map:

While that may look scary, the path the flu has taken as it
spread westward looks a lot like the 2012/2013 and 2014/2015
flu seasons, which peaked at the end of December and beginning of
January.

The 2016/2017 season was more
moderate
, while this year, doctors are seeing more flu
patients than usual. The CDC reports that across the country,
hospitals are seeing roughly twice the
typical baseline of patients with influenza-like symptoms coming
through the doors.  

Part of the reason for that uptick could be that a strain called
H3N2 is dominating across the US. It’s an especially deadly
version of the illness that’s
not well-served
by this year’s vaccine. Historical
data from the CDC
suggests that years when the H3N2 strain is
in heavy circulation tend to be more deadly — death rates are
typically 2.7 times higher in those years, translating to
thousands of people killed.


ca flu data decKinsa
Health

San Francisco-based smart thermometer company Kinsa says
it keeps track of around 25,000 daily thermometer readings around
the country. Based on that temperature data (coupled with reports
of coughs and sore throats that people have entered into Kinsa’s
app), the company creates an “illness index”. It estimates that
1.6 million Californians are sick right now, a dramatic 64%
uptick from the data it gathered during last year’s flu
season. 

Missourians are also running hot this year, according to Kinsa’s
data and the state’s official numbers. In December, the Missouri
Department of Public Health said that more than 1,545 cases of
flu had already been reported, which was more than 4 times the
number of cases recorded at that time in the 2016-2017 season.
According to Kinsa’s index, Missouri is hardest-hit spot in the
US, and the chart below suggests the worst may not be over there
yet.mo flu levels dec 2017Kinsa
Health

The flu also hit
Australia hard
during its season earlier in 2017, which has
led some people to (unfairly) call that strain the “Aussie flu”.

But just because the flu shot isn’t as effective against H3N2
this year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it. The vaccination
still offers protection against other strains of the virus, and
the California Department of Public Health says 70% of the people
who died from flu there so far were not vaccinated.

If you do get the flu, it’s best to stay home from work or school
until you have been fever-free (without the help of drugs) for

at least 24 hours
. Person-to-person spread of the virus from
coughing, talking and sneezing is the way most people end up
infected.


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