The U.S. has been gripped by its worst flu season in years.
Experts have been surprised by the intensity of the current outbreak, which Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, with the infection rate around eight percent, is as bad as the swine flu epidemic from 2009. During that season, 60.8 million people contracted the virus with 274,304 hospitalized and 12,469 dying.
Even though that outbreak was bad with President Obama declaring it a national emergency, the 2014-2015 flu season was far more lethal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 710,000 people were hospitalized that season with 56,000 deaths recorded.
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The current situation is alarming with the hospitalization rate per 100,000 people already hitting 59.9 after 18 weeks, according to the CDC.
It took 25 weeks for the hospitalization rate to reach that point during the deadly 2014-2015 season. During a mild year, an average of 12,000 Americans die due to the flu and judging by the current trend, 2017-18 is on course to surpass 2014-15 in lethality. More than 80 percent of flu deaths usually occur among the elderly and people with underlying health problems.
This year, seemingly healthy individuals are being infected and hospitalized at higher rates than the historical average. The CDC has reported that 63 children have already died during the current season.