Thu, Feb 13, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Virus Outbreak: Flu most severe in five years; death rate lowest: CDC

By Lin Hui-chin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

This year’s flu season has seen 914 severe cases, but only 75 deaths — the highest number of cases with severe symptoms and the lowest mortality rate of the past five years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

Emergency rooms last week reported treating 82,856 patients, down 19.5 percent from a week earlier, CDC doctor Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said.

Despite declining figures, hospitals still reported 56 new admissions of patients aged 2 to 91 with severe influenza symptoms and the deaths of 14 patients aged 23 to 90, Lin said.

A 23-year-old man in Taichung is the youngest casualty this flu season, Lin said.

The man, who had a congenital immune deficiency and chronic lung inflammation, sought treatment in the middle of last month for a fever, cough and wheezing, Lin said.

The man was diagnosed with the influenza A virus subtype H1N1 and developed bilateral pneumonia, but died in intensive care from septic shock and dysrhythmia, Lin said.

Most of those who have died this flu season had chronic illnesses, or a prior history of underlying diseases, and not all received a flu shot, Lin said.

Twelve of the 14 who died contracted the influenza A virus subtype H1N1, Lin added.

Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are similar to those used to control influenza, which could be why hospitals are seeing fewer people for the flu, Lin said.

People tend to not seek treatment for minor illnesses, which might also be a reason for this year’s lower figures, Lin added.

The CDC estimates that the flu season is past its peak, but that further monitoring is warranted as it has not yet concluded, Lin said.

The influenza A virus subtype H1N1 is the strain contracted by 73.5 percent of all flu patients, although influenza B is on the rise, Lin said.

People should visit their nearest medical facility as soon as possible if they experience difficulty breathing, a bluish discoloration in their finger tips or toes, or disorientation, Lin said.

As of Sunday, 288,000 flu shots funded by the government had still not been administered, so those who have not received a flu shot should hurry and get one, Lin said.

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