BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Amid growing concerns about the global spread of the Coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to pay more attention to a virus they are more likely to catch; the flu.
According to this week's CDC FluView report, more than 22 million Americans have been diagnosed with influenza (flu) so far this winter season. As estimated 3 million new cases were reviewed last week alone.
There have been an estimated 210,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 U.S. deaths from the flu this season.
In comparison, there have been 12 confirmed cases of the 2019 novel Coronavirus in the U.S., with zero fatalities reported so far.
According to the CDC, flu is far more prominent across the nation than Coronavirus, and this winter it is impacting increasing numbers of people in almost every state.
For the week ending February 1st, only three U.S. states (Idaho, Alaska, and Delaware) had minimal-to-low flu-like activity levels. All other states had moderate-to-high flu-like activity levels. Widespread influenza activity was reported in every state except Oregon and D.C.
While hospitalization rates remain similar to other seasons at this time, rates among children and young adults are higher right now than they have been in previous years.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 7.1 percent of U.S. deaths that occurred during the week ending January 25, 2020 were caused by Pneumonia or Influenza. That's just below the epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent.
On a positive note, the majority of lab-confirmed cases in the U.S. do involve the less severe and less infectious Influenza-B strains. And almost all of the current flu strains in circulation have responded to one of the four FDA-approved antiviral medications currently available.
However the CDC does warn that the proportion of Influenza-A(H1N1)pdm09 is on the rise.
For Massachusetts residents, the national flu levels seem to be mostly consistent with data from the state level. "Influenza severity for Massachusetts remains high this week," the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said in its weekly Influenza update. "The percentage of influenza-like illness visits for Massachusetts has continued to increase and remains higher than the previous two years in the same week."
According to the DPH report, "all influenza strains that have been characterized in Massachusetts this season to date are covered by the current influenza vaccine."