Rich Galen

Earlier this week I was whining about having what I declared to be "the fluh" which was the flu without the fever.

I am over it.

But, the flu - the real flu - is on a tear and this year may be the worst for "seasonal flu" in more than a decade.

Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has upped the ante and announced that this flu season is starting earlier, the virus is infecting more people, and this year's main strain (H3N2) may kill as many as 50,000 in the United States.

Let's do that again. As many as 50,000 people may die from the flu this year in the United States. It would be better if you were not one of them.

It is difficult to come up with an average number of deaths in the U.S. from seasonal flu, but the CDC warns on its webpage,

During seasons when influenza A (H3N2) viruses were prominent death rates were more than double what they were during seasons when influenza A (H1N1) or influenza B viruses predominated. About 90% of influenza associated deaths occur among adults 65 years and older.

To put that number into some perspective, according to the Huffington Post "Hurricane Sandy killed at least 125 people in the United States."

Getting some idea of the scale we're talking about here?

Here are some year-on-year comparisons:

At this point in the flu season last year there were 70 cases reported in Boston.

At the same point this year there have been 700 cases reported in Boston.

In New York State reported cases of influenza have risen 250 percent year-on-year.

In Washington, DC, according to WJLA-TV so far this season "there are 310 confirmed flu cases. Last year, there was a total of 97 cases the entire season."

CNN reported yesterday that in one county in upstate New York, "health officials counted 2,347 flu-season cases through last Saturday. In 2011, during the same seasonal time period, they counted five flu cases."

According to the New York Daily News, "the virus has been reported in 41 states - 29 of which are reporting high or 'severe' levels."

ABC News, on its website wrote that the CDC "reported 22,048 flu cases from September 30 through the end of 2012. By the same time last year, only 849 flu cases had been reported nationwide."

Not surprisingly, on the FDA web page the anti-flu drug, Tamiflu, in its oral suspension form is now listed by its manufacturer to be on "intermittent backorder" in many locations. Tamiflu in 30 mg, 45 mg and 75 mg capsules remain available, however.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at