7 million Americans have the flu – but it is MUCH less deadly than last year, CDC reveals

Up to 7 million Americans have caught the flu this season, with around 70,000-80,000 hospitalized, the CDC revealed.

The figures, released today in the agency’s first influenza report of the season, confirm that this year’s strain (H1N1), while serious, is nowhere near as threatening as last year’s (H3N2), which killed 80,000 people. 

Just 19 states and New York City are reporting high viral activity – compared to 46 states this time last year. 

Experts say the promising news is that the flu shot appears much more effective at fending off infection this year, so they urge as many people to get it as soon as possible.

As of January 5, 6.2 to 7.3 million people have been sick with flu. Between 2.9 to 3.5 million people have been to the doctor because of flu, and 69,300 to 83,500 people have been hospitalized with flu.

The latest estimates show at least 13 children have died. The CDC does not update data on adult deaths. 

This year, 90 percent of flu cases tested by the CDC are H1N1, the same strain that caused the swine flu epidemic in 2009. 

It is a much, much milder strain than the H3N2 which killed more than 80,000 Americans last season. 

Ten percent of people have been diagnosed with H3N2. 

Rates spike between December and March, and although this year’s strain is nowhere near as deadly as last year’s, there is no fail-safe way of protecting yourself. 

The CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination as the best way to reduce the risk of flu and its potentially serious complications, including death in children. 

If you do develop flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours. If it persists and your fever worsens, seek medical help. 

People who are very sick or who are at high risk of serious flu complications should see a as soon as possible to get antiviral drugs.  

The best bet you can have to protect yourself from the flu is to get the flu shot, wash your hands regularly, don’t touch your face, stay hydrated, and get good sleep.  

But as rates rise, hospitals are clamping down to prevent spreads on their wards. 

They can’t be sure that everyone flowing in through their doors is doing that – particularly stressed relatives whose loved-ones are sick. 

New Jersey, North Carolina, and Indiana are just a few of the states putting limits on the influx of people to their wards, with many more set to follow.

Some hospitals, including in Arizona and Rhode Island, will make visitors wear masks.

‘Many of our patients do have a compromised immune system because they’re fighting another illness and that’s why they’re in the hospital in the first place,’ Jennifer Burrows, chief nursing officer at Providence St Vincent Medical Center, told KPTV. 

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