More than 50,000 Americans are expected to die from the influenza this season, the highest on record since an epidemic outbreak in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say the 2017-2018 flu season has been unique in that the virus is not spiking in different areas at different times, but is maintaining a high rate of infection across the entirety of the U.S. at once, Bloomberg reported. More worrying is that the flu appears to be affecting older generations more than usual, with baby boomers having a higher rate of hospitalization than their grandchildren. Children still make up the largest number of infections, however.
“This rapid increase in cases that we have been seeing is after the winter holidays, and while it’s among all ages, it’s higher in children,” Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told Bloomberg. “It looks like a big part of the later January activity is flu transmission from kids returning to school.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health officials have likened the outbreaks — which have remained steady for the past three weeks — to the epidemic of 2014-2015 that entailed 710,000 hospitalizations and 56,000 deaths.
“We often see different parts of the country light up at different times, but for the past three weeks the entire country has been experiencing lots of flu, all at the same time,” Jernigan said.
Young boomers between 50-65 who typically resist the flu well are make up the second-most hospitalizations, just behind the elderly. Among younger generations, seven children died this last week alone, and 37 have died in total, according to Bloomberg. Hospitals in New York admitted 1,759 confirmed influenza patients during the week that ended on Jan. 20, according to the Wall Street Journal, and New York has proven to be one of the lease affected states.
Minnesota has seen the rate of hospitalization double the 2014-2015 rate, and California’s has increased four-fold.