In case you didn’t know, this flu season has been quite a tough one, with more deaths than average being reported across the United States. Just last week, another six deaths were reported in South Carolina, bringing the statewide flu death toll in this state to 53, so far this season.
This is up from 38 deaths reported last flu season, says the South Carolina State Department of Health and Environmental Control; and the season is nowhere near over, yet.
South Carolina epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell shares, “This influenza season showed higher rates of influenza infection, hospitalizations and deaths upon comparison to the 2015-16 season,” adding, “However, this is not unexpected given that this season the predominant circulating strain is influenza A(H3).”
During dominant strain seasons, Dr. Bell adds there it usually more illness and death. Thus, it is slightly more expected this year. For example, the predominant strain last year was A(H1N1) and that one tends to result in milder reactions.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control says that the 42 of those who died were older than the age of 65. This, of course, is one of the high risk groups. Six of these deaths were folks between the ages of 50 and 64 and four were among those in the 18 to 49 population. Only one death was recorded in South Carolina within the adolescent/teen age group.
Delaware Department of Health and Social Services secretary Kara Odom also comments, “This is a reminder that even healthy people can get sick enough to miss work or school for a significant amount of time, be hospitalized or suffer the most serious consequences.”
So far, there has been 615 flu-related deaths in Delaware, this year.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, somewhere between 3,000 and 49,000 people in the US die every year from complications of the flu. Yes, that is a wide range but the data shifts greatly every year. It is important to remember, too, that the most vulnerable to death from the flu are very young children (because their immune systems are not fully developed) and the elderly (because they have weaker immune response).