US faces the worst Flu epidemic in 15 years

US health officials say the flu outbreak this winter has been one of the most severe in the last 15 years.

In their latest weekly report on Friday (26/1), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC says flu it is now widespread in every US state, except Hawaii. The CDC says at this level of infection, at the end of the flu season, some 34 million people will catch flu.

Officials said last week, one out of every 15 patients who went to doctors across the country had flu-like symptoms

Health officials say more people are now seeking treatment of flu symptoms than during the 2009 swine flu epidemic that strikes the country. Regardless of the 2009 outbreak, the last time the US experienced high seasonal flu rates was recorded in 2003-2004.

The CDC says the virus this winter has caused nearly 12,000 people to be hospitalized and 37 children die. Officials say the death toll of children is likely to increase, as when the children die it should be reported to a medical examiner and may take longer to be documented.

Flu usually affects mostly children and the elderly . However, the rate of hospitalization for people aged 50 to 64 or so-called baby-boomers is very high this season. Officials said the rate of hospitalization for baby boomers was 44.2 per 100,000 people, almost three times that of last season. CDC does not directly track adult deaths. [ps/jm]

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