NEW YORK >> Sick with flu? You have a lot of company.
The flu covered the USA UU Again last week for the third consecutive week. Only Hawaii has been saved.
The government does not track all cases of flu but presents estimates. One measure is how many people seek medical attention.
Last week, 1 in 15 visits to the doctor were for flu symptoms. That is the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009.
Thirty-nine states reported high flu traffic last week, compared to 32 the previous week.
Some good news, at least so far: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that the hospital is staying and flu deaths among the elderly have so far not been as high as in other recent seasons of flu.
However, hospitalization rates for people aged 50 to 64 – Baby Boomers, for the most part – have been unusually high, CDC officials said.
The CDC reported what was observed throughout the country during the week ending January 20.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease, spread by a virus. It can cause a miserable but relatively mild illness in many people, but a more serious illness in others. Young children and the elderly are at greater risk of getting the flu and its complications. In a bad season, there are up to 56,000 deaths related to the flu.
In the United States, annual flu vaccines are recommended for everyone older than 6 months.
Health officials say the correct shot this year points to the strains that are making Americans sick, including one that causes most of the disease, a type A H3N2 flu virus. But exactly what is working will not be known until next month.
The same virus was the dominant flu virus last winter, when the flu season was not so bad. It is not clear why this season, led by the same mistake, is much more intense, according to some experts.
"That's for the best, this virus really does not look so different from what we saw last year," said Richard Webby, a flu researcher at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
It may be that many of the people who got sick this year managed to avoid the infection last year. Or there may be some degree of mutation in the virus that has not yet been detected, said Dr. Dan Jernigan, of the CDC, in a call with reporters on Friday.
According to the patterns of past seasons, the flu season is likely to begin. It will subside soon, experts say. There are some places, like California, where the flu season already seems to be giving way, the CDC officials said.
"If I were a bettor, I would put money down," Webby said. "But I lost money on bets before."
Jennifer Manton fell ill with the flu two weeks ago, affected by fever and body aches. He missed two days of work and felt bad for about 10 days.
"I had not had the flu since 1996," said Manton, 48, marketing director of a law firm in New York City. "It's been 22 years since I felt so bad."