The number of people who sought treatment for flu-like symptoms last week reached a record high of about 118,000 cases, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
The number of weekly reported flu-like cases increased by about 20,000 cases last week, with a total of 83 serious complications caused by flu infection also confirmed, which was also a record high this flu season.
Most serious complication cases were people infected with the influenza A (H3N2) virus, with two students among them under 18 years old.
The number of clustered upper respiratory or flu-like illnesses fell slightly to 49 last week, with 27 confirmed to have the flu, and 22 (81.5 percent) occurring in schools.
CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said six people died last week from the flu. The youngest was two years old and the oldest was 90, and all were infected with the influenza A virus. Only one of them was vaccinated against the flu this season.
Family members of the two-year-old girl reported flu-like symptoms and when she first showed signs of upper respiratory illness she was prescribed an antiviral medication, but still had a continuous high fever, sleepiness and other symptoms, Lin said.
The girl was taken to a hospital for treatment, but died of complications including myocarditis and encephalitis four days after the onset of symptoms, Lin said.
As of last week, 760 cases of serious flu complications, including 79 deaths, were reported this flu season, beginning on July 1 last year.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that despite higher temperatures the number of flu cases has continued to rise, perhaps because the National Health Insurance Administration began funding influenza rapid screening tests in May.
The policy might contribute to the increase in mild cases, but early detection and early treatment can help prevent serious complications, Chuang said.
Chuang urged people to seek treatment at clinics for mild flu-like symptoms, and reserve the medical resources at regional hospitals and medical centers for people with serious flu complications.
People who have difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, bloody or thick sputum, chest pain, lose consciousness or have other severe symptoms should seek treatment at a hospital as soon as possible, the CDC said.
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