Facts and Statistics About the Flu

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Facts and Statistics About the Flu

It’s flue season again! The flu spreads mostly from person to person, and people with flu are most contagious the first three to four days after their illness begins.

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. The flu spreads mostly from person to person, and people with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins.

The flu can come on suddenly. Early symptoms can include fatigue, body aches and chills, cough, sore throat, and fever. For most people, influenza resolves on its own, but sometimes, the flu, and its complications, can be deadly.

Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object and then transfer them to your eyes, nose, or mouth. People with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away.

At the time of publishing this article, influenza activity in the United States for the 2018-2019 flu season remained low. The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness increased slightly to 1.7 percent, which is below the national baseline of 2.2 percent.

The 2017-2018 flu season, however, was one of the deadliest in decades, with high levels of outpatient clinic and emergency department visits for flu-like illness and high flu-related hospitalization rates.

You can find out more about flu facts and statistics, below.


There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D. Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics almost every winter in the United States.

Influenza C infections generally cause a mild respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics. Meanwhile, influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle and are not known to infect or cause illness in humans.

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Most people who get sick with flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:

  • children younger than age 5, especially those younger than age 2
  • adults older than age 65
  • residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • people who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes
  • people who are very obese, with a body mass index of 40 or higher

The flu has resulted in 9.3 million to 49 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010. Each year, on average, five to 20 percent of the United States population gets the flu.

It is estimated that the flu results in 31.4 million outpatient visits and more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year.

During the severe 2017-2018 flu season, one of the longest in recent years, estimates indicate that more than 900,000 people were hospitalized and more than 80,000 people died from flu.

Additionally, as of late October 2018, 185 pediatric deaths had been reported to CDC during the 2017-2018 season. Approximately 80 percent of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination.


Read on: Facts and Statistics About the Flu

The health and medical information on our website is not intended to take the place of advice or treatment from health care professionals. It is also not intended to substitute for the users’ relationships with their own health care/pharmaceutical providers.

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