Influenza in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Influenza, or the flu, is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and include a sore throat, cough, runny nose, fever, headache, and muscle pains. Influenza spreads easily through coughs and sneezes and, although it goes away on its own, it can cause more severe illness and even death among high risk populations, including the elderly, young children, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. Influenza is also a common cause of pneumonia, and symptoms of both diseases are similar, with pneumonia being a more serious infection of the lungs and carrying a higher risk of death. Influenza outbreaks occur yearly around the world, with outbreaks in the United States usually occurring in late fall and winter. Flu symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter products, but the most effective way to prevent the flu is with a yearly flu vaccination. As of 2013, Mexico had the highest rates of flu vaccination among the elderly of any OECD country in the world, followed by South Korea, Chile, and the United Kingdom.

Influenza and pneumonia are some of the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for around 15.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015. The flu is also one of the leading health complaints among consumers in the U.S., with almost four percent of the population reporting being sick with the flu in the month of January 2016. A survey from 2015 found that 81 percent of U.S. adults just want to be left alone when they are sick with the flu, while 42 percent believe people take flu season too seriously.

During flu season, many people take specific measures to prevent becoming sick with the flu. Some of the most popular prevention measures include being well rested, washing hands frequently, and maintaining a healthy diet. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent the flu is through vaccination. Despite this, less than half of adults in the U.S. received a flu vaccine in 2015. Rates of vaccination are higher among older people, but health care professionals report that the influenza vaccine is the second most likely vaccine to be refused by families.

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Influenza in the U.S. - Important statistics

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Influenza in the U.S.
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