Significance of Flu

Influenza has important consequences for an affected community and its' public health services. Every year between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population develops influenza, leading to more than 200,000 hospitalizations from related complications.* Ordinarily, the number of cases usually peak in about 3 weeks and subside after another 3 or 4 weeks. During the height of an influenza seasonal epidemic, as much as one half of a community can be affected. Health care workers must be prepared for the extraordinary demands an ordinary seasonal flu epidemic will place on the local health system.

During the 1997-1998 flu season in California, a major Los Angeles hospital reported:

The severity of seasonal flu epidemics vary substantially depending on the particular influenza virus types and subtypes in circulation. The CDC estimates the annual U.S. influenza-associated death toll for the period 1976-2007 from respiratory and circulatory causes averaged 23,607 per year, with a range from 3,349 to 48,614 deaths. During seasons when type A H3N2 viruses were prominent the annual influenza-associated death rate was 2.7 times higher than those seasons when H3N2 was not prominent.

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An ordinary flu epidemic will usually last 6-7 weeks.