Charleston, W.Va. -- Although the weather has been warmer recently, West Virginia's flu season still has several more weeks before it dissipates, according to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
This flu season has hit younger and middle-aged adults harder this year than in seasons past, according to the Centers for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality weekly report released Thursday.
People ages 18 to 64 represented 61 percent of all hospitalizations from influenza -- up from the previous three seasons when this age group represented only about 35 percent of all such hospitalizations, the CDC said.
"The predominate strain circulating is the H1N1, and we know from the data that it disproportionately impacts younger and pregnant people," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
Also, more influenza deaths occurred in this younger age group, the CDC said.
"If you haven't got vaccinated and you get in contact, that's obviously going to impact you because it's a novel viruses and there's no significant previous antibody protection," Gupta said.
The report said flu surveillance data suggests flu activity is likely to continue for a number of weeks, especially in places where activity started later in the season.
"As far as activity in West Virginia, so far this season we've seen our highest numbers of flu activity in the second and third week of January," said Janet Briscoe, director of epidemiology and emergency for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. "Those that are younger are, of course, sometimes less likely to get vaccinated."
Hospitalization rates among people 65 and older are still the highest. People 50 to 64 have the second highest hospitalization rate, followed by children up to age 4, according to the CDC's report.
"We do know a few of the hospitals have had a few deaths in adults and last week was the second pediatric death in West Virginia," Briscoe said.
Confirmed cases have also declined in hospitals, Briscoe said. She added that could change as the season winds down.
Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.