Health Care

Spot Shortages Of Antiviral Drugs Seen As Flu Season Drags On

Spot Shortages Of Antiviral Drugs Seen As Flu Season Drags On

New numbers released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control show a sharp rise in the number of child deaths blamed on the flu outbreak.

Another 10 children were reported to have died of the flu in the week ending February 3, bringing the total infant mortality so far this season to 63, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's acting director, told reporters.

Secretary Azar discussed his experience overseeing HHS ongoing flu activities and his time working with other public health leaders during his previous time at HHS. Scientists are studying circulating viruses to see if anything unusual is going on, Schuchat said.

The flu has further tightened its grip on the U.S. This season is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago.

Most of Indiana's flu-related deaths this season have involved people age 65 and older, but almost 83 percent of the influenza-like illnesses reported this year to the state involve people age 24 and younger.

"If persons look like they have the flu, don't wait on a test result - you should treat immediately if it's a person with severe presentation or underlying risk conditions", she said.

What continues to be be notable about this season in particular is the cumulative hospitalization rate among older adults ages 50-64 (63.1 per 100,000 compared to 35.1 per 100,000 in 2014-2015, CDC researchers said) and the rate of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness.

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During the meeting, Dr Schuchat presented the status of seasonal flu in the United States and pandemic flu around the world, referencing the rate of activity, hospitalizations, and mortality.

The season is now in its 11th week, and Schuchat said flu is so hard to predict, it's not clear whether cases have yet reached their peak.

And while deaths among children - now at 63 kids - and adults have not been extremely high, it is possible they could increase in line with hospitalization rates, she said.

Schuchat noted that while influenza A (H3N2) remains the predominant strain, influenza B viruses are comprising about 30% of viruses reported in this week's data.

In the most recent week data were available, 10% of deaths in the nation were from influenza and pneumonia. She added that it's still not too late to get a flu shot.

"I wish there was better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Schuchat said at a news conference.