Hospital resources have been strained by a record number of people in the U.S. who have been hospitalized with the flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
This year’s flu season has been dominated by H3N2, a particularly dangerous influenza strain. The flu shot is estimated to be only 17% effective at preventing H3N2, according to a recent Canadian study.
Acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat warned:
Unfortunately, our latest tracking data indicate that the flu activity is still high and widespread across most of the nation and increasing overall.”
Hospitals in California, Georgia, and Pennsylvania are using “surge tents” to make extra space for flu patients.
The tents were described by the New York Times as an “inflatable military-style hospital ward a bit like a bouncy castle” with cots, oxygen tanks, and heart monitors.
The tents are used as a holding area for walk-in flu patients, lowing the risk of flu infections spreading in the main waiting rooms.
Last week, the CDC reported that flu hospitalization rates across the country were the highest ever seen at this point in the season since tracking began in 2005. Over 710,000 Americans have been hospitalized with the flu this season, including 53 children who died.
Unfortunately, infection rates are still rising — especially on the East Coast — and hospitals are struggling to find supplies. The supply of saline IV bags has been strained after Hurricane Maria disrupted manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico.
Flu season in the U.S. has been ongoing for about 10 weeks. No one knows how long the season will last, but it can last up to 20 weeks.
Source: Influenza Epidemic Has Hospitals Pulling Out ‘Surge’ Tents to Make Extra Space for Flu Patients