Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, WHAS
3:09 AM. EST January 18, 2018
(ABC News) A deadly flu epidemic that hit the nation has prompted a Texas school district to cancel clbades during the week and a hospital in California installed a triage carp outside the emergency room for patients with influenza.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UU They identified a particular strain of influenza A, H3N2, as the culprit that affects thousands from coast to coast.
"I think this is the first time I've had 49 of 50 states that reported widespread activity at the same time, at least in the last 13 years," Lynnette Brammer, epidemiologist at the CDC's influenza division, told ABC News on Wednesday. Hawaii is the only state where the flu is not spread.
Brammer said that this flu season is on par with the 2014-2015 season, when more than 700,000 people were hospitalized with the flu and nearly 130 died.
California has been the most affected state with at least 42 people under the age of 65 dying of flu-related symptoms, according to the state's public health department. At least 3,269 people in the state tested positive for the flu, the agency said.
Even healthy people, in all age groups, have succumbed to this year's flu.
Katie Oxley Thomas, a 40-year-old mother of three and marathon runner from San Jose, California, died 15 hours after being admitted to an emergency room with influenza, her family told ABC KGO station in the area of San Francisco Bay.
"I know she could hear us and we're saying, 'Katie, you can fight this, you can beat him'," said Thomas' stepmother, Adrienne Oxley.
He said the family had difficulty accepting that he died of the disease.
"We just did not believe it," Oxley said. "We were in total shock, it's still hard to believe."
Nico Mallozzi, 10, of New Canaan, Connecticut, died Sunday after his family took him to a hospital to treat him for flu symptoms while at a hockey tournament in Buffalo, New York.
"Nico was a very lively, vibrant and lively child," Bryan Luizzi, superintendent of the New Canaan Public School District, told ABC News.
At Loma Linda Medical Center in San Bernardino County, California, medical personnel have erected a triage tent outside the emergency room to handle the influx of patients with the flu.
"This seems to be the worst flu season we've had here in the last 10 to 15 years." Dr. Adrian Cotton, chief of medical operations at the hospital in Southern California, told ABC "Good Morning America." "We are seeing many more patients for the flu and the patients we are seeing are much sicker than normal."
In Texas, the outbreak of influenza is so severe that the Bonham Independent School District, which has about 2,000 students, canceled clbades until Tuesday.
"As the number of confirmed cases of influenza increases, it is important to increase health and safety protocols for each campus, including the disinfection of all buses and spaces," the school district wrote in a letter to parents. . "The local health authorities have recommended seven whole days to stop the cycle of spread of influenza."
The flu epidemic is also affecting the nation's blood supply.
Jodi Sheedy, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross blood services, told ABC News that nearly 500 blood drive campaigns have been canceled last week, due to bad weather and the flu outbreak. The Red Cross supplies approximately 40 percent of the blood used in hospitals across the country.
"If you do not feel good, you should not be giving blood," Sheedy said.
"Right now we are doing everything we can to make sure hospitals have enough blood on their shelves," he added. "We have not had any indication that the surgeries have been postponed."
Encourages healthy people, especially those who are vaccinated against the flu, to donate blood, and in particular platelets.
"We ask people to leave and donate blood as soon as possible," Sheedy said. "All types of blood are needed."
Brammer said it is not too late for people to get vaccinated against the flu and the CDC continues to recommend them.
"The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, even if they are at the peak of the flu season," he said. "There are still weeks."
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