The severity of
the flu (influenza) varies widely from year to year. According
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):1
Influenza causes more than 220,000 hospital
visits each year in the United States.
The number of cases of flu
is highest during the winter months.
Children have the highest
rates of infection.
Serious illness and deaths from the flu are highest in people
ages 65 and older, children younger than 2 years of age, and people of any age who have medical conditions that place them at higher risk.
Because the flu virus is contagious, it spreads easily among
people who live close together, such as in nursing homes and other long-term
care facilities. The numbers of people affected and the death rates can be
Flying to great-aunt Erma's house for Thanksgiving? Or taking a leisurely
wintertime cruise along the shores of the Mexican Riviera? Boost your chances
of healthy travel by taking a few preventive steps. That way, you'll cut your
risk of catching cold and flu from other plane passengers. And you won't be
confined to your cabin on the cruise ship, battling a nasty case of
gastroenteritis while other passengers are off enjoying the
Children younger than 5 and adults ages 65 and older are two
of the groups who are most likely to be hospitalized for flu-related
Flu and its complications caused an
average of 36,000 deaths in the U.S. between 1990 and 1999.1
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2010. MMWR, 59(RR-08): 1-62. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5908.pdf. [Erratum in MMWR, 59(31): 993. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5931a6.htm.]
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
July 8, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 08, 2010
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