Transcript for New CDC numbers show flu deaths still on the rise nationwide
We move on to the disturbing new numbers from the CDC on the flu epidemic. It is getting worse with more deaths, especially among children and baby boomers and the flu season hasn't even reached its peak. Dr. Jen Ashton is standing by with advice but we'll begin with ABC's Marci Gonzalez in los Angeles with the latest on the efforts to fight this epidemic. Marci, good morning. Reporter: Paula, Dan, good morning. Those latest numbers show flu activity in several plates including here in California has decreased but in other parts of the country, it is still spreading and showing no signs of slowing. This morning, new numbers from the CDC show the percentage of patients dying from the flu and Zach Newman goi pneumonia going up. This mother and bride toboggan died suddenly in week in Alabama after coming down with influenza. You can't -- you can't describe the loss, the hole you feel. Reporter: In Tennessee 33-year-old father Craig Childress. He didn't go to the doctor. He thought he could tough it out. He didn't get the flu shot this year. Reporter: The CDC says 49 states are reporting widespread flu activity impacting the elderly the most. Baby boomers getting hit hard and so far, 37 children have died from the virus with experts estimating the actual number may be twice that. We know that about half of those pediatric deaths have no underlying medical conditions so they are otherwise healthy children. Reporter: Doctors warning sometimes a robust immune system can actually work against a patient. A lot of times the biggest issue with the flu is that when you get in contact with it, your body's response to it especially for a young, healthy person can be very aggressive. Reporter: And across the country hospitals so far treating nearly 12,000 people with the flu this season still not at its peak. And some emergency rooms are so overcrowded they've had to divert ambulances. Still, doctors stress, anyone with severe symptoms should not hesitate to seek medical attention. Dan, Paula. All right, Marci Gonzalez reporting from Los Angeles. We want to continue the conversation with our chief medical associate Dr. Jen Ashton. Jen, good morning. So we're hearing a lot about who could, who should take Tamiflu. Can you break that down? Two main uses for antiviral medications and generic form of it. One is to treat someone who has been diagnosed with the flu or that you suspect has the flu. The other is for prevention so these are for people who had prolonged, direct contact with someone with known or suspected influenza and on a case-by-case basis it can be determined whether they should take Tamiflu but there are high-risk groups and a long list, pregnant women, 65 years of age or older, a weakened immune system from cancer or HIV or chronic medical condition, any pulmonary condition, cardiac condition and people in long-term care facilities so it's a lot of people. They go on Tamiflu to help reduce the Rick that they will get sick if they've been in contact with someone with the flu. You talk about the 48-hour rule. What do you mean in this context. In the past conventional approach if you didn't start antiviral therapy after their symptoms start, it didn't work. Now we found there could be some benefit in these patients so high risk for seers complications. So bottom line, you shouldn't withhold treatment of it just because you're outside that 48-hour window. One thing that jumped out is those with robust immune systems can be vulnerable. That seems counterintuitive. We're seeing these previously healthy people dying of the flu and have to stress, those are the rare cases, the majority are in people with chronic medical conditions. But when we see this happen in young, healthy people, the theory is that the immune response is so vigorous in fighting the infection, it also damages the lung tissue so the analogy is lighting a candle with a match or a torch and the torch will damage the candle. It'll destroy the candle and so many pediatric deaths of the historic those pediatric deaths did they have a vaccination. We asked and they don't know how many of the pediatric deaths have been vaccinated but in the past 80% of pediatric deaths are occurring in children who did not get the vaccine. It's still not too late to get vaccinated. One of the best things we can do to protect ourselves. Bottom line, take this seriously. Absolutely. Keep those hands clean. Get vaccinated. It's in my household. Oh. My daughter. Are you on Tamiflu. My daughter has the flu. She's on Tamiflu and I am on Tamiflu because I do deal with pregnant patients and as a preventive measure. No joke. Thank you, Dr. Ashton. Our best to your daughter.
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