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Flu is intensifying, especially in the Southeast and the West


01/03/2024

The following is an excerpt from an NBC News article. To read the full article, visit: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/flu-cases-rising-young-children-southeast-west-rcna132032‚Äč
 

Flu is intensifying, especially in the Southeast and the West

While older adults are most at risk, young children can also become seriously ill. Some pediatricians say their sickest patients didn't get the flu shot this year.


By Erika Edwards



"...The CDC estimates that there have been at least 7.1 million flu illnesses this season, with 73,000 hospitalizations. At least 14,732 people were admitted to the hospital for flu in the week that ended Dec. 23. 

According to Cohen, there is no indication that the rises in flu or other respiratory illnesses like Covid are straining hospital systems yet.

Most patients sick enough to be hospitalized and die from flu are ages 65 and older. 

Children, too, can get severely ill from flu, and it can be especially dangerous for kids ages 5 and younger. ER visits for flu among babies ages 1 and under rose significantly during the week that ended Saturday, the CDC reported. 

North Carolina, which is in the midst of "very high" flu activity, has reported three pediatric deaths this year — already matching the number of children who died in the state during all of last year's flu season, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

"We are definitely seeing a surge in cases of influenza right now," said Dr. Jonathan Miller, the chief of primary care pediatrics for Nemours Children's Health. "A lot of sick kids, a lot of sick families coming out of the holidays when everybody was getting together." The Nemours system includes children's hospitals and dozens of pediatricians in Delaware, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Dr. Amina Ahmed, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Atrium Health Levine Children's in Charlotte, North Carolina, said she has also noted the steady uptick in pediatric flu cases. Those young patients typically come in with fevers, cough and often either runny noses or sore throats, Ahmed said.

Both Ahmed and Miller of Nemours said that, anecdotally, it seems that the kids sick enough to be hospitalized with flu didn't get this year's flu shot.

"These kids are pretty much all unvaccinated," Ahmed said. "The uptake on the influenza vaccine wasn't as robust as we would have hoped."

According to a CDC survey, just 43.9% of kids ages 6 months to 17 years received the flu shot this year. The survey estimated that about the same percentage of adults — 43.8% — said they got the shot..."

 

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