The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said outbreaks of influenza-like illness continued to increase in the nation, with three flu-related deaths reported last week among more than 72,000 cases overall.
While the flu season usually ends in late May, the centers’ weekly disease monitoring data showed 72,153 flu-like cases were reported last week, an increase of 2.3 percent from the week before.
CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) said influenza A (H3N2) is now the main seasonal flu virus circulating and the majority of cases involving serious complications were from the strain.
In addition, 24 clustered cases of upper respiratory and flu-like illness were reported last week, of which 15 clusters (62.5 percent) were in hospitals, schools and densely populated facilities, Liu said.
Tests confirmed that 17 clusters (70.8 percent) were flu infections, Liu said.
CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said that more than 70 percent of cases of serious flu complications reported last week involved people above 65 years old, while 97 percent had a history of chronic disease.
The three people who died were a 32-year-old woman and two people aged over 90, all with chronic diseases, Lin said, adding that they all developed a fever and experienced difficulty breathing, symptoms that persisted for two to five days before pneumonia took hold and they died within a week.
He urged people to watch for symptoms of difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, cyanosis, chest pain, changes in consciousness, low blood pressure, bloody sputum or thickened sputum, which might be signs of serious complications.
People should seek medical attention immediately for proper treatment if such symptoms occur, Lin said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the centers had already loosened restrictions on eligibility to receive government-funded antiviral drugs.
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