HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Flu cases across the commonwealth and the country continue to surge as hospitalizations top a 10-year record, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
At the same time, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health reported that infections in Pennsylvania have surpassed the peaks of five previous flu seasons. Peak flu season usually takes place in late January or February.
Nearly 50,000 confirmed cases have been reported across the state, with the Midstate making up about 12% of reported infections.
“The type of flu that’s circulating is called H3N2, and it usually causes three or four times more deaths than every other strain of the flu,” UPMC Infectious Disease Expert Doctor John Goldman said.
Goldman said it’s unclear why the strain is so dangerous but emphasized that this season’s case count is so high for a variety of reasons.
“We have many fewer people getting their flu shots. Flu shots across the country are roughly half the level they typically are at this time of the year,” Goldman said. “And we have a lot of people who, because of masking and social distancing, weren’t really exposed to the flu in the last two seasons, so they have less pre-existing immunity.”
Goldman said he fears cases will only continue to rise throughout the winter, adding that hospital beds at UPMC are filling up fast.
“We don’t want to see it get worse, which is one of the reasons we try to make it as clear as possible that you should get your flu shot,” Goldman said.