In its weekly FluWatch report, the Public Health Agency of Canada says there were 29,037 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu across the country as of february 3 - almost 54 per cent attributed to an aggressive H3N2 strain - with more than 3,100 hospitalizations and 130 deaths.
This year's risky flu season shows no sign of waning, and "may be on track to break some recent records".
Outpatient and emergency room visits remain high with flu cases, and the rate of hospitalizations is at the highest since the CDC began tracking the flu 10 years ago, she said. The agency does not keep an exact count of adult flu deaths, but closely tracks child deaths.
"The previously recorded high for that was 7.6 percent for a non-pandemic year in 2003-2004", Schuchat said.
"With the peak of flu season potentially still weeks away, it is still not too late to get a flu shot", Pino said in a statement.
Caused by viruses, flu is a contagious respiratory illness with mild to severe symptoms that can sometimes lead to death. While the influenza A viruses have been dominant this year, particularly the H3N2, influenza B viruses are now becoming more common and it is definitely possible for someone to get both strains, Schuchat said.
"We don't have any signs of hospitalizations leveling off yet." said Schuchat.
But at the same time, reports of Influenza B infections are on the upswing, according to the CDC.
Vaccination is still recommended, especially for its protection against the Type B strains which are said to be increasing in circulation in some parts of the country. OR and Hawaii are the two exceptions.
There were more than 120 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu per 100,000 people in Central New York, up from about 100 cases per 100,000 people the week before. CNN just reported today that this year's high flu rates only appear to still be getting worse for now.
"I wish that there were better news this week", she said, "but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news".
This year's flu could be more calamitous than outbreaks going back decades, but there's no way to know for sure.
"The tragic death of a child due to the flu is a reminder of the devastating effects this illness can have on people of all ages". This rate is higher than the anticipated 7.3% pneumonia- or flu-related deaths estimated for the week.
Overall, healthcare providers statewide are seeing a downward trend of patients seeking help for flu symptoms in recent days, said Dr. Vivian Hawkins, an influenza coordinator at the state Department of Health. "If it looks like flu, treat it", said Schuchat. Experts still encourage people to get a flu shot, as it may lessen the effect even for those in whom it doesn't prevent the sickness entirely.