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Flu Virus: Elderly Are More Vulnerable

Update Date: Feb 01, 2013 09:53 PM EST
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The flu virus is unfortunately still going strain and the most dangerous strain is the H3N2 which is particularly dangerous for the elderly.

This week alone the number of people older than 65 who died from a confirmed case of influenza has sky-rocketed to 116 per 100,000.

"We've kept rates since 2005 and we have never seen a rate this high," said Michael Jhung, an epidemiologist at the CDC. "The highest we've ever seen it was 90 per 100,000." He expects those numbers to go higher still. 

"We've still got several weeks of the season yet, so it's going to be much worse" before it's over, he said. "The deaths are still accumulating."

Jhung warns that people, especially the elderly, should immediately go to the doctor when they start to have flu-like symptoms. Antiviral drugs, taken within 48 hours of the onset of the flu, are helpful in preventing complications and keeping people out of the hospital, he added.

Children have also been strongly affected by the flu. The total death count of children this flu season is 45 with 8 deaths alone happening this week.

This year's flu season got off to an early start, hitting the East Coast especially hard in late December and early January. Several cities, including Boston and New York, declared flu emergencies.

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