The flu season is going strong.

In the United States, about six to seven million people have contracted the disease so far, with half of them being sick enough to see a doctor, according to estimates released Friday by the Centers for Disease. Control and Prevention.

Some 69,000 to 84,000 people were admitted to the hospital between October 1, 2018 and January 5.

"Influenza activity is prevalent in many states," said Dr. Alicia Fry, of the Influenza Division of the BC, in an interview. "We are planning several more weeks of influenza season."

C.D.C. is not affected by the closure of the government.

The last influenza season, from 2017 to 2018, was particularly deadly, with the highest number of cases reported since 2009 and the disease considered serious in all age groups. Nearly 80,000 people died in the United States.

The number of deaths due to the flu this season has not yet been determined. But Dr. Fry said the flu was prevalent in 30 states, especially in the southeast, and that she was heading north. Levels are also high in New York and New Jersey.

And the number of hospitalizations so far this season "is a reminder that the flu can cause serious illness," added Dr. Fry.

Despite the warnings, many people still do not realize how dangerous the flu can be. The death last month of Bre Payton, 26, a writer for a conservative online news magazine and guest commentator on the Fox News channel, has been a shock to many. She died as a result of flu and encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

According to the CDC, very young, very old, pregnant women and people with underlying health problems are at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill and needing hospitalization for cause. flu. In healthy people, the illness usually lasts for three to five days, but coughing may persist.

"It's really not too late to get vaccinated," said Dr. Fry.

The vaccine takes about two weeks to come into effect, she said, but it's still worth getting because the flu season should last longer. According to Dr. Fry, the effectiveness of this year's vaccine is not yet known, but in recent years, vaccination against the same type of flu that is currently circulating – known as H1N1 – has reduced the risk of contracting the flu by 50% to 60%. a person who needs to see a doctor with symptoms

Antiviral drugs, available only on prescription, can slightly shorten the disease and reduce its severity, but they work best if they are taken as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms. In a statement, the C.D.C. "People who are very sick or at high risk for serious flu complications and flu symptoms should consult a health care provider promptly for possible treatment with an antiviral medicine for the flu."

Although the flu has already caused deaths this season, the figure has not been released because there is still not enough information to make a reliable estimate, said Carrie Reed, who led the research team applied and modeling that produced the estimates.

It is also not possible to determine how this influenza season compares to others based on these numbers, as this is the first time that C.D.C. provided estimates of influenza while the season is still underway. In the past, totals were published after the end of the influenza season.

Dr. Fry said her team decided to collect and report the numbers in advance because they understood that the data was useful. From now on, updated totals will be published each Friday in the C.D.C FluView Weekly Report.

Although influenza viruses contain only eight genes, compared to about 20,000 in humans, they manage to do a lot of damage. During the last influenza season, from 2017 to 2018, approximately 48.8 million people became ill, 22.7 million visited a physician, 959,000 were hospitalized and 79,400 died. The number of cases last season was the highest since the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, when 60 million people became ill.

Dr. Fry stated that it was not possible to use current estimates to project the total number of cases this season.

"We are very actively looking for ways to predict what could happen in the short term and at the height of the season," said Dr. Fry. "We will not know for several weeks when it has peaked."

Estimates are based on data collected from a surveillance network that accounts for influenza-related hospitalizations in parts of 13 scattered states in the country, covering approximately 27 million people, or 8.5% of the country's population. .