By Mahita Gajanan
January 22, 2018
TIME Health
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This year’s flu season has been unusually active and influenza is still spreading, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Flu activity has increased throughout the United States as of the second week of January, the CDC said Friday. Ten influenza-related deaths in children were reported through the week ending on Jan. 13, bringing the total flu-related pediatric deaths to 30.

More than 60,000 samples testing positive for influenza have been reported since monitoring for the virus began on Oct. 1, according to the CDC. The flu is widespread in every state in the country except for Hawaii, health officials said.

The flu has been particularly severe this year, due in part to the especially prevalent Influenza A H3N2 strain. The flu vaccine is less effective against H3 viruses, which tend to cause more serious flu cases than other strains, according to the CDC.

Here’s what you need to know about the effects of the flu season this year.

How many people have died from the flu this season?

A total of 30 children have died from influenza this flu season, including 10 new cases reported to the CDC as of Jan. 13. It is not yet clear how many adults in total have died from the flu, although individual cases of adults dying from influenza causes have been reported. The hospitalization rate is currently at 31.5 people per 100,000 U.S. residents.


How many states have reported cases of the flu?

The flu virus was widespread in every state except for Hawaii as of Jan. 13, according to health officials. Local cases of influenza were still reported in Hawaii, as it joined 31 other states and Puerto Rico in reporting high levels of influenza-like illnesses among residents, including California, New York and Florida. Nine states said they experienced moderate levels of reports, including Pennsylvania, Alaska, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

California in particular has seen one of the worst flu years ever, with a total of 74 people under the age of 65 dying from the virus since October, according to the Los Angeles Times. Thirty-two people under 65 died of the flu in California last week.

Why is the flu causing deaths?

The severe H3N2 virus is the likely culprit of the 30 influenza-related deaths in children that have so far been reported this flu season. Adults should take caution, too, even with other strains of the flu, as the mild-seeming virus can result in serious complications. Contracting the flu can lead to a weakened immune system, which can become susceptible to potentially deadly bacterial infections, such as pneumonia. Influenza can further agitate already existing chronic conditions, particularly among older adults, and can lead to death.

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