Flu season in full swing, could get worse, experts say

More than half of the states in the U.S. are experiencing high levels of flu-like illness, and flu activity continues to be on the rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest FluView report.

Currently, 29 states and New York City are reporting high levels of influenza-like-illness (ILI), and another nine states are reporting moderate levels of ILI. This season, 18 children have died from flu-associated deaths.

“Reports of influenza-like-illness are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention branch.

The CDC said anyone who has not yet received a flu shot, should get one.

“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza, and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” Bresee said.

Bresee added that if you do have the flu, you should start taking antiviral medications immediately.

According to the CDC, it is likely the increased flu activity will continue for a while.  Based on the last 10 flu seasons, ILI remained at or above baseline for about 12 weeks – and up to 16 weeks during the 2005-2006 season. ILI remained above baseline for 19 weeks during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.