The zika virus ended up causing very little damage here after it arrived, but unfortunately the current health scare du jour looks like it might have some substance to it this time:
Schools in at least 11 states have closed as the worst flu epidemic in nearly a decade intensifies.
The dominant strain of flu this season, H3N2, known for being particularly virulent, has resulted in the deaths of at least 37 children and is expected to cause more as the epidemic persists several more weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected on Friday.
Seven children died this week, authorities said. Hospitalizations, a predictor of the death rate, rose to 41.9 people per 100,000, up from 36.9 the week before.
An estimated total number of deaths due to the flu won’t be available until next season, according to the CDC. Outpatient hospital visits by people with the flu have been skyrocketing for several weeks, and as of mid-January had surpassed every season except 2009-10, when a new strain of flu caused a global pandemic.
Some states are tracking flu-related deaths. Texas is reporting 2,355 flu-related deaths from October through December. The state expects that number to rise dramatically, but said it was too early to tell if it will exceed last season’s flu-related death toll of about 9,500.
Schools closed anywhere from a day to a week due to widespread absenteeism as administrators try to stop the spread of the virus and disinfect buildings. Several school administrators said they have never seen closures of this scale.
Gulf District Schools in Port St. Joe, Fla., closed its four campuses Friday after about 20% of its 1,900 students missed school on three consecutive days this week due to flulike symptoms.