The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on February 20 that flu cases have decreased nationally for the third straight week, but the annual outbreak has taken the lives of at least six more children, according to report by The Today Show. To date there have been 86 pediatric deaths resulting from the flu reported, compared to 50 deaths at the same point in flu season last year.
Flu continues to be a widespread problem in 30 states, and the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza is above the epidemic threshold.
Figures in the latest CDC report show that the outbreak has hit the youngest and the elderly especially hard. Just three weeks ago flu-related hospitalization for people aged 65 and older reached the highest mark since the CDC began tracking that information in 2005, and those numbers continue to increase.
The vaccine this year has not proven to be very effective. It was developed and manufactured before the virus mutated, and has prevented flu in only about 30 percent of the cases. Still, those who have received the vaccine may have fewer symptoms and milder cases of the illness.
The CDC recommends regular hand-washing with warm water and soap — wash thoroughly for a full minute — to reduce the chances of spreading the virus and getting the flu.