IN flu deaths reached 167 last week, up from 136

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The flu is always unsafe for the elderly and small children.

But, as always, it's hard to predict whether flu activity will continue to increase in the coming weeks or if the worst may already be behind us.

Of the deaths in Washington state, state officials linked 109 cases to influenza A and 38 to influenza B, according to the department's report, which measures the 2017-18 flu season over a 12-month period beginning in October.

The illness remains widespread in all states but Hawaii and Oregon.

The second highest for the week ending February 9 was the Northeast Region with some 686 laboratory confirmed cases of flu for the week.

Another 2,349 New Yorkers with the flu were hospitalized, the highest weekly number since the state began keeping records in 2004.

Within the past seven days, 10 more children have died across the country, bringing the season's total to 63.

Influenza-like illness activity is at 7.7 percent breaking the 2003/4 high of 7.6 for a non-pandemic year. "Influenza-like illness is now at the same level as the peak week of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic".

And it is only now, after people have spent weeks spreading the flu and lying sick in hospitals, that the sickest are dying, and the extent of this flu's deadliness is becoming clear.

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"We don't have any signs of hospitalizations leveling off yet", said Schuchat.

This year's nationwide severe flu season has been blamed on strains of the Type A virus, particularly H3N2 for which the flu vaccine has not been a good match. "I ask all New Yorkers to take advantage of this expanded access to flu vaccines and join us in slowing down and stopping the spread of this virus in the Empire State". There are other methods out there-one uses an insect virus grown in caterpillar cells, according to NBC News-but the industry overall has yet to shift from the egg-based approach. The agency's virologists are studying it to determine if there are any other explanations for why it's been so hard-hitting. But it could mean that the state is facing another - albeit likely smaller and less severe - uptick in flu reports, infectious disease experts said.

Despite the severity of the season, the American Lung Association says there are things you can do to avoid being stricken by the virus.

Roughly one in seven visits to the doctor last week were due to symptoms traditionally connected to the flu. "The vaccine wasn't tremendously effective".

There are a number of ways people can protect themselves and others. "It's a little too early to say we're out of the woods or to say that flu is abating". And some protection is better than none. But it is a signal of how very intense the flu season has been.

"Connecticut residents should treat influenza as the seasonal but serious disease that it is", she said.

"Taking [anti-viral] medicine within 48 hours of beginning symptoms will give those drugs the best chance of working".

Year-to-date laboratory confirmed cases of flu in the state now stand at 8,152. Hands should be washed frequently. Be sure to disinfect possibly contaminated surfaces and objects. Schuchat urged people to stay home from school and work, if affected with influenza.