Four year-old Jonathan Nies reacts as he receives a flu vaccination at Children's Hospital Boston in Boston, Massachusetts. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This year's flu season has lasted for 21 weeks, making it the longest US flu season ever recorded since the government started tracking flu season duration over 20 years ago, according to the AP.
The flue season came in two waves. "I don't remember a season like this," said Dr. Arnold Monto, a researcher from the University of Michigan who has studied respiratory illnesses for over 50 years.
Flu can cause anything from an uncomfortable, relatively mild illness in some to a more severe illness with complications in others. Young children and the elderly are most at risk.
The flu season began the week of Thanksgiving with a mild strain, but in the middle of February, a more severe strain started infecting more people and causing more hospitalizations. The stronger strain does not match well with the vaccine, said Lynnette Brammer, who oversees flu tracking at the CDC.
This flu season has not been as deadly as last winter's 19-week season, however, when an estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications. The CDC estimates that 35,000 to 55,000 people have died this season.
Brammer believes that the flu season should be over soon, although the virus is known to be unpredictable.
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