America Gets Its Epidemic

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 31 2014 @ 8:29am

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And it’s on track to be an especially nasty one:

[The CDC] declared an influenza epidemic this week, a status achieved at some point nearly every year, though not usually this early in the season. Twenty-two states and Puerto Rico are reporting high flu intensity. In some parts of the country, flu infections have outpaced those from each of the last few years, according to data from the C.D.C. Google Flu Trends, which measures flu intensity using search terms, shows a similar pattern of high flu activity.

The worrisome outlook is the result of a confluence of factors: an early start to the flu season, with more people sick in December than usual; a strain that tends to make people sicker; a relatively low vaccination rate; and a mismatch between this year’s flu vaccine and the virus that’s making people sick.

Abby Ohlheiser adds that, thus far, “fifteen children have died across the country from influenza” – nearly eight times the number of Ebola deaths in the US this year. More Dish on this season’s flu here.

(Map from the CDC)