"It has been a tough flu season so far this year," Dan Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a press briefing Friday. Although flu activity is beginning to go down in parts of the country, such as California, it remains high for most of the US. In fact, 49 states have reported widespread flu activity for three weeks in a row, which is notable.
The predominant strain, H3N2, is not new, but it is known for being particularly nasty. In H3N2 seasons, there are "more cases, more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more deaths, especially among older people," Jernigan says.
This year's season looks similar to 2014–15, which was categorized as "high severity" and also had H3N2 acting as the predominant strain. However, the number of influenza-related deaths has risen rapidly in the past week, including seven children who died, bringing the total to 37. "We suspect there will be more deaths, similar to what we've seen in past seasons, as data continue to come in," Jernigan said.