There were 4,064 deaths in the U.S. during the third week of 2018 from pneumonia or influenza, according to CDC data. And the number for that week is expected to rise as more reports are sent to the agency.
It gets worse. The death toll for this pestilence in future weeks is expected to grow even higher because flu activity is still rising—and the number of deaths follow the flu activity.
The amount of influenza ravaging the U.S. this year rivals levels normally seen when an altogether new virus emerges, decimating a vulnerable population that hasn’t had a chance to develop any defenses.
It’s an unexpected phenomenon that public health experts are still trying to decode.
The levels of influenza-like illnesses being reported now are as high as the peak of the swine flu epidemic and exceed the last severe seasonal flu outbreak when a new strain started circulating.
Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s acting director, said “This is a difficult season, and we can’t predict how much longer the severe season will last,” she said. “I wish there was better news, but everything we are looking at is bad news.”
The agency’s virologists are studying the current flu to try and determine if there are any explanations for why it’s been so hard-hitting this year.
Many are dying who had no other characteristics or medical conditions that would place them in the high-risk category. And dying quickly, some within two days of the onset of symptoms.
A pestilence is a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating. The CDC declared this flu season an epidemic a month ago.
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