Doug Hasselo, 87 of Carlsbad, California, is treated for the flu by float nurse Nellie Reyes in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. ( REUTERS/Mike Blake)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing flu season in the U.S. is on track to be worst on record in hospitalization rates with 16 more pediatric deaths being reported last week, U.S. health officials said Friday.
"In the past week, we have seen increased influenza-like illness activity. More hospitalizations and, tragically, more flu-associated deaths in children and adults," Anne Schuchat, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters on a conference call.
"And as of this week, overall hospitalizations are now the highest we've seen, even higher than 2014-2015, our previous high season," Schuchat.
A CDC weekly report showed that a cumulative rate of 51.4 flu hospitalizations per 100,000 people was reported in the week ending on Jan. 27, which was significantly higher than the 43.5 rate for this same week during the 2014-2015 season.
"If this current trend in hospitalization rates is maintained through the season, it is possible that the number of flu hospitalizations may well exceed 710,000 that was seen in 2014-15," Dan Jernigan, director of the CDC's influenza division, added.
The CDC also reported another 16 children have died of flu, bringing the number of flu-associated pediatric deaths to 53 this season.
In addition, flu is widespread in 48 states, down from 49 in the previous three weeks. Oregon was the only one U.S. state that reported less flu activity last week.
However, the number of U.S. states experiencing high influenza-like illness activity increased from 39 to 42, the CDC said.
"We are by no means out of the woods," said Schuchat. "Most seasons last up to 20 weeks and we've probably got several weeks left of increased flu activity."