For the second consecutive week, the flu season in the United States shows signs of slowing down. Flu cases remain rampant, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the epidemic has peaked.
Despite encouraging signs, the influenza remains a pernicious problem in the country, with as much as 17 deaths among children last week, according to CDC.
The Flu Is Starting To Go Away, But Hold On
Much of the United States remains ravaged by influenza, with 45 states still reporting widespread cases, but health authorities from several states such as Minnesota and New Hampshire say they're only seeing regional or local flu activity.
According to the CDC's most recent surveillance report, illness activity began to decline during the eighth week of the flu season. Only 5 percent of people who visited their doctors complained about flu symptoms, down from 6.4 percent the previous week.
The CDC is unequivocal about the good news.
"We have definitely peaked," said spokesperson Kristen Nordlund, who was quick to add, "that doesn't mean we aren't going to see more flu activity." What's more, as long as flu remains widespread in one's community, it's definitely a good decision to receive a flu shot. Just because the numbers are starting to lower doesn't mean people are allowed to be complacent.
Despite positive signs of decline, the flu season may not be entirely over anytime soon. The CDC says that the current numbers represent "the peak we saw last season." High flu activity is still expected to come over "many more weeks."
Alicia Fry, who works in the CDC's influenza division, suggests there might be six more weeks of flu, though noting that it's difficult to predict its course.
Cases of both Influenza A and B saw declining numbers recently. The former is much harder to manage than the latter, with the A type harder to thwart via vaccination.
The flu was showing alarming numbers of death by mid-February, with the death count reaching 40,414. At that point, the epidemic was declared as being worse than the swine flu in 2009 to 2010, a severely tragic memory in American health.
As of Feb. 19, the flu season has taken the lives of 84 children in the United States, again according to numbers by the CDC. Most of the children who died hadn't been vaccinated with a flu shot.
Nordlund said it's still not too late to get a flu shot.