ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico – along with most of the nation – is continuing to see a spike in flu cases and deaths.
Nine new deaths have been attributed to the flu in New Mexico, bringing the total to 16, as the number of overall cases has tripled for the season so far.
The number of cases nationally has spiked also.
Thirty-two states reported high patient traffic last week, up from 26 the previous week. Overall, it was the busiest week for flu symptoms in nine years.
“This is a season that has a lot more steam than we thought,” Dr. Dan Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Associated Press.
Schools in Oklahoma and Texas have cancelled classes because so many students and teachers were sick with the contagious respiratory illness.
In New Mexico, the state Department of Health says the number of flu deaths is likely higher than 16, since many of this season’s 60 deaths from pneumonia are related to the flu, department spokesman David Morgan said after the release of this week’s data report Friday afternoon.
The department gets weekly updates from the state’s Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics. The nine new reported deaths, though, didn’t necessarily occur since last week’s report, which logged seven flu-related deaths.
There have been no pediatric deaths this year.
Morgan said a majority of those who have died from the flu are over age 65, though some have been younger than 50.
“The flu is widespread in many states. New Mexico is part of that,” Morgan said.
Hawaii is the only state that doesn’t have widespread illnesses.
Last season, a total of 27 people died from the flu in New Mexico.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.