The worst of Canada's flu season may be over, according to new national figures. Previous year at this time, the proportion of outpatient visits for flu-like illness was 5.8%.
About 6 million to 7 million Americans have become ill since flu season kicked off in the fall.
The CDC's latest report marks the first time the agency has provided relatively current estimates for the total number of influenza cases, doctor's visits and hospitalizations during a given flu season.
Officials from the New York State Health Department announced this week that the flu is spreading rapidly throughout the state, with some hospitals reportedly limiting visitation to prevent the spread of the virus. Flu season typically lasts through the middle of the spring. "Flu activity nationally is elevated", the CDC says in its latest report on flu.
It's hard to gauge how lethal the flu season has been for children across the country because Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia don't track influenza-related deaths in real time.
And in Saskatchewan, public health officials are pleading with parents to get their children vaccinated after influenza killed three unvaccinated preschoolers in the province.
For the week ending January 5, the cumulative rate stood at 9.1 influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000, compared with 22.7 per 100,000 a year ago. As of December 29, 2018, 13 children had died from influenza this flu season.
The CDC recommends flu vaccinations to decrease the risk of contracting the virus and its possibly deadly side effects. "These new in-season estimates fill out the picture of the burden of flu in the United States", the agency said in a statement, adding that they will be updated weekly.
"I think we could be doing a better job to really raise awareness to say kids between six months to five years old are a high-risk group".