Young children target of 2017-18 flu season

Even though the flu season has peaked, it's still going strong.

This flu season has been particularly hard on children in the Houston area—as well as across the nation.

In previous years, the flu moves from one age group on to the next. Houston Health Department's Porfirio Villarreal said this year young children are the ones doctors are seeing.

“Consistent throughout this season--children under four years of age are the ones who have been severely impacted. They continue to be the group that has suffered more illnesses and have to go to the local emergency room,” said Villarreal.

He said the last time there was a flu season this bad it was in 2012-13.

“About 1,700 people showing up every week to the emergency rooms. Back in the peak, the last two weeks in December, we were at 12.9-percent and we were seeing about 3,500 visits a week,” said Villarreal.

He said they expect more flu activity for another few weeks. They are still encouraging people to get the flu shot to reduce the severity of symptoms.

Federal health officials report 53 children have died nationwide this flu season.

CDC reports:

• Since this flu season started, Americans have been hospitalized for the illness at a rate of 51.4 per 100,000 people, the highest level seen since CDC started keeping comparable statistics in 2010.

• The 16 children reported to have died in the last week of January were the most to die in a single week since the 2014-2015 season.

In that last severe season, an estimated 56,000 people, including 148 children, died.

The dominant strain of the flu virus is H3N2. The current vaccine is anywhere from 10-to 30-percent effective. CDC will put out its own vaccine effectiveness estimate later this month.

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