In the past year, the flu killed an estimated 80,000 Americans — the country’s highest death toll from flu and related complications in more than a decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 2017–2018 flu season has been classified as one of “high severity” (SN: 7/7/18, p. 16), with some 900,000 people hospitalized with flu symptoms — the highest hospitalization rate since the 2005–2006 season. A record 180 children died, as of August. Only the 2009 flu pandemic had more child deaths, with 358.
The high total death toll was “not surprising,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund says, given that the main virus circulating “was influenza A H3N2, and we know that virus tends to be severe for young children and the elderly.”
U.S. health officials are now gearing up for a new flu season. “It is not possible to predict what this flu season will be like,” Nordlund says.