NEW YORK (CBS) Government Health officials say they were hoping to have better news to share Friday on the flu, but unfortunately this season continues to intensify. The CDC says it's now looking to be as bad the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
This severe flu season is showing little signs of slowing down, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It looks like we are on track to break some recent records," said the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat.
The latest report from the CDC shows one out of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for flu like illnesses, the highest rates seen since 2009 when the H1N1 swine flu virus hit the U.S.
Flu remains widespread in every state but Hawaii and Oregon, and hospitalizations are increasing.
"As of this week we have more hospitalizations than we have seen in any recent season including the severe 2014-2015 season. Upwards of 710,000 Americans were hospitalized from flu. If things continue like they are right now we will have even more hospitalizations this year," Dr. Schuchat said.
More children died, bringing the number of flu deaths in children to 63 this season. The worst could be yet to come. Government health officials say we have not seen the peak of the flu season yet, and it's unclear when that will happen. "We are in week 11 of increased flu activity. Some seasons can last as long as 20 weeks," Dr. Schuchat said. "What we are seeing right now are increases in B- viruses, so we may have more more weeks of flu left this year."
This severity of this season makes it more important than ever to stay home when you are sick, cover your cough and sneeze, and get your flu shot if you haven't already. Experts remind that while most people with flu will get better and wont need antiviral medications like Tamiflu, those at increased risk for flu complications should get to the doctor right away if they suspect flu. That includes the very old and very young, people with heart and lung diseases, and pregnant women.