Flu-related outpatient visits increase this season

The proportion of outpatient visits for flu-like symptoms rose nearly 4% by the end of December 2014.

Flu-related outpatient visits increase this season
Flu-related outpatient visits increase this season

HealthDay News -- With 43 states now reporting widespread flu activity and 21 child deaths so far, the current flu season is off to a rough start, according to a news release from United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The proportion of outpatient visits for flu-like symptoms reached nearly 6% by the end of December, way above the baseline of 2%, reported government officials.

The CDC reminds that people at risk of flu-related complications include young children, especially aged under two years; people aged over 65 years; pregnant women; and people with chronic health problems, such as asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems.

The predominate flu continues to be the H3N2 strain -- one that is poorly matched to this year's vaccine, indicated the agency.

“While most of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death,” wrote the agency.

A three-pronged approach for combating the flu has been suggested by the CDC:

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Practice preventive care to help stop the spread of germs
  3. If prescribed, take antiviral medications to treat the flu
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