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Flu Season Affecting More People for Longer than Usual

Spring may have arrived, but the number of people in the U.S. with the flu persists.

The percentage of doctor visits for flu-like symptoms last week, or 4.4%, is the highest for this time of year since 1998, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking the flu’s prevalence in this manner.

That’s according to data reported by The Wall Street Journal, which notes that the flu is still widespread in 42 states.

While this year’s flu season has largely followed the trend of years past—starting in October and peaking between December and February—the number of people experiencing flu-like symptoms has not dropped off as quickly as usual.

The WSJ explains that the rise of a second strain of the flu since early February called H3N2 has contributed to the prolonged duration.

Nevertheless, the severity has been noticeably less than last year, when the influenza A subtype was the predominant strain.

Between October and March, there have been approximately 454,000 hospitalizations and between 25,000 and 41,500 flu-related deaths, as compared to around 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths during the 2017-2018 flu season.