At least 63 children have died from the flu so far this season and there’s no sign of it letting up as the number of deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise, officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said the center has seen “increased influenza-like activity, more hospitalizations and tragically, more flu-associated deaths in children and adults.”
“I wish that there were better news this week, but almost everything we’re looking at is bad news,” Schuchat said.
Schuchat also said that the number of hospitalizations was the highest the center has ever encountered. This flu season, hospitalization rates have surpassed the nasty season of the winter of 2014-2015.
As of this week, the center reported 16 flu-related deaths in children, bringing the total number of children who have died from the virus to 63.
Schuchat said she does not see the flu season ending anytime soon and expects it to break records. The doctor encouraged people to get the flu shot if they have not and to stay home and rest if they become ill with the flu.
So far, it has not been a remarkably bad year for flu deaths. Flu and flu-related pneumonia deaths have lagged a little behind some recent seasons. Overall, there are estimated to be as many as 56,000 deaths linked to the flu during a bad year.
The CDC said the amount of suspected flu cases at doctor’s offices and hospital emergency rooms last week matched that seen in 2009, when a new swine flu pandemic swept the world and panicked many people. Swine flu first hit that spring, at the tail end of the winter season, but doctor visits hit their height in late October during a second wave.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.