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CDC: 8 more children have died of flu; 144 total :

March 13, 2020

Editor's note: For the latest flu coverage, visit https://www.aappublications.org/collection/influenza.

Eight more children have died of flu, bringing the total to 144 this season, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

Deaths among children are higher than during the same period in every other season since reporting started in 2004-’05 with the exception of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. About two-thirds of the deaths were due to influenza B viruses, which are known to cause severe illness in children.

Hospitalization rates for children also are unusually high. Children ages 4 and under have been hospitalized at a rate of 88.9 per 100,000 children, the highest on record for this point in the season. Rates for children ages 5-17 are 22.6 per 100,000 children, the highest in recent seasons except the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

Overall, about 5.2% of outpatient visits were for flu during the week ending March 7, up slightly from 5.1% the week before. However, the CDC noted the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may have led more people to seek medical care for respiratory illnesses. Flu activity reported by clinical laboratories decreased.

Forty-one states reported high flu activity last week, while 48 reported widespread activity.

The CDC estimates about 36 million people have gotten sick, 370,000 have been hospitalized and 22,000 have died this season.

The AAP and CDC recommend everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. Physicians with high-risk patients who have contracted the virus should treat them promptly with antivirals.

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