- One child in Texas died after contracting flu-like symptoms.
- But experts warn the flu can also be dangerous for people over 65.
- The CDC estimates up to 85 percent of annual flu deaths are in older adults.
Flu activity continues to increase across the country, with seven states reporting high levels of flu activity.
Another 42 states
The overall hospitalization rate is 1.4 per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)
The states with the highest amount of activity are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas.
The flu mortality rate also climbed — 5.2 percent of deaths were linked to pneumonia and influenza (P&I), whereas 4.9 percent were linked to P&I the week prior.
Like past seasons, young children and older adults are most at risk when it comes to the flu.
“The highest rate of hospitalization was among adults aged 65 or older (3.6 per 100,000 population), followed by children aged 0-4 (2.2 per 100,000 population),” the CDC
Texas reported an unvaccinated 5-year-old died from flu complications, bringing the pediatric death total to five. And the Iowa Department of Public Health announced two older adults died from the flu.
Vaccination is the best way to protect young children and older adults from the flu and its life-threatening complications.
So far, over
Children have the greatest risk
A type of flu strain called B/Victoria is most prevalent this season, particularly among young children.
“Nationally, influenza B/Victoria viruses are the most commonly reported influenza viruses among children age 0-4 years (48% of reported viruses) and 5-24 years (56% of reported viruses),” the CDC
Health experts say the B/Victoria strain typically causes a more severe illness in children.
“Prior observational studies showed that influenza B can cause severe disease in children. It is not known why the virus or the host’s response leads to a severe presentation,” says Dr. Aaron Milstone, the associate hospital epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
When it comes to the flu, younger children are more vulnerable than older children.
Additionally, the majority of illnesses occur in children who are otherwise healthy, according to Dr. Marietta Vazquez, a Yale Medicine pediatrician and infectious diseases expert.
“Fifty percent of young children infected with influenza end up hospitalized. Their immune systems are not fully matured, so they have no previous immunity towards influenza,” Vazquez told Healthline.
Milstone added that young children are more fragile and tend to become dehydrated more quickly than adults. They’re more prone to
“For this reason, pregnant woman should be vaccinated to protect their infants during the first 6 months of life,” Milstone advised.
Seniors more at risk for serious complications
People aged 65 and older also have a heightened risk.
According to the CDC, 70 to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in
“This is primarily due to the fact that human immune defenses become weaker with increasing age. Also older individuals have higher chances of having other chronic diseases that increase the chances of more severe influenza,” Vazquez said.
The A(H3N2) strain — which was most commonly reported last year — is again most prevalent in seniors, accounting for
This strain is particularly dangerous to older adults, according to the
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a pair of
The bottom line
Flu activity continues to increase across the country, with
Already, there have been five pediatric deaths and a number of mortalities among older adults. Young children and older adults are most at risk when it comes to the flu and its severe, life threatening complications — and the vaccine is the best way to protect them against the flu.