The flu hospitalization rate rose last week to 86.3 per 100,000 people, although outpatient visits for flu-like illness peaked in early February and are on the decline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today. Flu hospitalizations continue to surpass the rate at the end of the 2014-2015 flu season, another severe season when the H3N2 strain also predominated. H3N2 viruses are associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in older adults and young children. A total of 119 flu-associated pediatric deaths have been reported nationally this season, and 24,644 flu hospitalizations in the 13 states reporting data to CDC's surveillance network. Thirty-four states continue to report widespread flu activity, but H3N2 viruses have been decreasing in recent weeks. CDC recommends treating all hospitalized, severely ill and high-risk patients who have suspected or confirmed influenza with antiviral medications as soon as possible. The agency also recommends flu vaccination for everyone aged 6 months and older as long as flu viruses are circulating.

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