The nation’s nasty flu season is tapering off, but there’s still plenty of influenza going around, posing a danger particularly to seniors who get sick, health officials said Friday.
Flu activity remained elevated nationwide, but it fell during the week ending Feb. 9, with 11 states still experiencing high levels and 31 states still reporting widespread activity, down from 38 the week before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s likely that influenza-like-illness has peaked in the United States, though activity may continue for some time, with additional hospitalizations and deaths being reported,” said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the CDC.
Deaths from flu and pneumonia remained at 9 percent, still above epidemic levels, and five more children died, bringing the total to 64 for this year’s season. That’s nearly double the 34 deaths recorded during last year’s mild flu season.
So far this season, nearly 9,000 people have been hospitalized with flu and its complications. People older than 65 continue to account for more than half of all of the hospitalizations.
“This season continues to affect seniors most severely,” Skinner said.
Older people and those at high risk of flu complications -- including people with other health issues, pregnant women and young children -- should seek treatment early if they develop flu symptoms. Antiviral drugs can help prevent serious complications – but only if they’re given in the first day or two after symptoms begin.