The acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this season's flu outbreak is on track with a couple of the worst flu seasons seen in the past few years with the potential to surpass them in severity.
The CDC said hospitals continue to be very crowded.
Doctors at Hartford Hospital said they expect flu cases to stay high for several more weeks into March before letting up.
"This is a very difficult season the hospitalization rate is the highest that we’ve seen," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director, CDC.
Channel 3 phoned into a conference call with Schuchat as she addressed the flu epidemic.
She said so far, more than 700,000 people in the U.S. have been hospitalized for flu-like symptoms.
In Connecticut, that number was 1,200.
The state Department of Public Health said 52 people have died in Connecticut because of the flu. Forty-four of them were 65 years or older.
"It’s scary," said Kelsey Maher of Hebron. "The flu shot, I don’t know. I’ve gotten it. A lot of people have gotten it. It’s still scary."
"My brother may have had it and even people in your family who are getting sick, you don’t know what it is and it can be a little scary to hear especially if you’re hearing stuff about deaths and really severe cases," said David Mason of Wethersfield.
Dr. Jack Ross, director of infectious diseases at Hartford Hospital, said this is very similar to the 2014-2015 flu season with hospitals across the country seeing bed crises for the large influx of patients.
"Early season, a brisk season and large boluses of patients at one time," Ross said.
Doctors in Hartford and with the CDC asked people who are feeling sick to first call their doctor to see what the next step should be.
"The worried well flocking the emergency rooms may not be such a good idea," Schuchat said. "So if you’re not sure if you should go to emergency room or urgent care, call ahead."
"It’s like a truck came down the road and the truck hit you," Ross said. "Do not visit hospitals. Do not visit nursing homes and try to stay in a congruent setting because you put others at risk."
Flu shots continue to be recommended by doctors.
They said even if people still get the flu, the symptoms could be less severe to those who vaccinated.
Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.