flu-related mortality graph
Courtesy of the CDC

CDC Flu Update: Flu-Related Pediatric Deaths Climb to 84

Influenza activity remains elevated according to the latest FluView report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All U.S. states but Hawaii and Oregon continue to report widespread flu activity and 43 states plus New York City, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico continue to report high influenza-like illness (ILI) activity. The overall hospitalization rate is higher than the overall hospitalization rate reported for the same week of 2014-2015; a high severity, H3N2-predominant season. CDC also is reporting an additional 22 flu-related pediatric deaths during week 6, bringing the total number of flu-related pediatric deaths reported this season to 84. Among reported pediatric flu deaths this season, only 26% of children eligible for vaccination had received any flu vaccine this season before they got sick. Flu activity is likely to remain elevated for several more weeks.

CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination for all persons 6 months of age and older as flu viruses are likely to continue circulating for weeks and there is an increasing proportion of influenza B and H1N1 viruses being detected. Early estimates show that flu vaccine has reduced risk of having to go to the doctor due to flu by 36% overall so far this season and that flu vaccine is offering substantial protection against H1N1 flu as well as moderate protection against flu B viruses. In addition, in the context of widespread influenza activity, CDC is reminding clinicians and the public about the importance of prompt treatment with antiviral medications in people who are severely ill and people who are at high risk of serious flu complications who develop flu symptoms. Below is a summary of the key flu indicators for the week ending Feb. 10, 2018 (week 6):

Influenza-like Illness Surveillance: For the week ending February 10, the proportion of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 7.5%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. Last week (week 5), ILI was reported to have reached 7.7%, the same as the peak of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, however, additional data submitted for week 5 subsequently has resulted in the week 5 ILI being recalculated at 7.5%. All 10 regions reported a proportion of outpatient visits for ILI at or above their region-specific baseline levels. ILI has been at or above the national baseline for 12 weeks so far this season. Over the past five seasons, ILI has remained at or above baseline for 16 weeks on average. Additional ILINet data, including national, regional, and select state-level data for the current and previous seasons, can be found at http://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/fluportaldashboard.html.

Influenza-like Illness State Activity Indicator Map: New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 43 states experienced high ILI activity (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming). Two states (North Dakota and Utah) experienced moderate ILI activity. Three states experienced low ILI activity (Hawaii, Idaho, and Washington). Two states experienced minimal ILI activity (Maine and Montana). Additional data, including data for previous seasons, can be found at https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/main.html.

Geographic Spread of Influenza Viruses: Widespread influenza activity was reported by Puerto Rico and 48 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming). Regional influenza activity was reported by Oregon. Local influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia, Guam and one state (Hawaii). No flu activity was reported by the U.S. Virgin Islands. Geographic spread data show how many areas within a state or territory are seeing flu activity. Additional data are available at: https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/FluView8.html.

Flu-Associated Hospitalizations: Since October 1, 2017, 19,398 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported through the Influenza Hospitalization Network (FluSurv-NET), a population-based surveillance network for laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations. This translates to a cumulative overall rate of 67.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States. The highest hospitalization rate is among people 65 years and older (294.9 per 100,000), followed by adults aged 50-64 years (72.8 per 100,000), and younger children aged 0-4 years (47.1 per 100,000). During most seasons, adults 65 years and older have the highest hospitalization rates, followed by children 0-4 years. During the 2014-2015 season, the cumulative overall hospitalization rate reported during week 6 was 48.6 per 100,000. During that same week, hospitalization rates for people 65 years and older were 242.2 per 100,000. Hospitalization rates for younger children 0-4 years were 43.4 per 100,000. Hospitalization data are collected from 13 states and represent approximately 9% of the total U.S. population. The number of hospitalizations reported does not reflect the actual total number of influenza-associated hospitalizations in the United States. Additional data, including hospitalization rates during other influenza seasons, can be found at http://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/Fluview/FluHospRates.html and http://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/FluHospChars.html.

Mortality Surveillance:
The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) is high again at 9.8% for the week ending January 27, 2018 (week 4). This percentage is above the epidemic threshold of 7.3% for week 4 in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
Region and state-specific data are available at https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/mortality.html.

Pediatric Deaths:
22 influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 6.
Four deaths were associated with an influenza A(H3) virus and occurred during weeks 2, 4, and 5 (the weeks ending January 13, January 27, and February 3, 2018, respectively). Five deaths were associated with an influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus and occurred during weeks 52, 5, and 6 (the weeks ending December 30, 2017, February 3, and February 10, 2018, respectively). Eight deaths were associated with an influenza A virus for which no subtyping was performed and occurred during weeks 51, 2, 3, 5, and 6 (the weeks ending December 23, 2017, January 13, January 20, February 3, and February 10, 2018, respectively). Five deaths were associated with an influenza B virus and occurred during weeks 2, 5 and 6 (the weeks ending January 13, February 3, and February 10, 2018, respectively). One death that was reported earlier this season was reclassified by the reporting jurisdiction. A total of 84 influenza-associated pediatric deaths for the 2017-2018 flu season have been reported to CDC. Additional information on pediatric deaths is available on FluView Interactive at: https://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/Fluview/PedFluDeath.html.

Laboratory Data:
Nationally, the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in clinical laboratories during the week ending February 10 was 26.5%. Regionally, the three-week average percent of specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories ranged from 15.0% to 31.4%. During the week ending February 10, of the 17,040 (26.5%) influenza-positive tests reported to CDC by clinical laboratories, 10,837 (63.6%) were influenza A viruses and 6,203 (36.4%) were influenza B viruses. The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories was influenza A(H3N2) virus. During the week ending February 10, 1,109 (66.2%) of the 1,676 influenza-positive tests reported to CDC by public health laboratories were influenza A viruses and 567 (33.8%) were influenza B viruses. Of the 1,071 influenza A viruses that were subtyped, 870 (81.2%) were H3N2 viruses and 201 (18.8%) were (H1N1)pdm09 viruses. The majority of the influenza viruses collected from the United States during October 1, 2017 through February 10, 2018 were characterized antigenically and genetically as being similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2017–18 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine viruses. Since October 1, 2017, CDC has tested 431 influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, 962 influenza A(H3N2), and 418 influenza B viruses for resistance to antiviral medications (i.e. oseltamivir, zanamivir, or peramivir). While the majority of the tested viruses showed susceptibility to the antiviral drugs, four (0.9%) H1N1pdm09 viruses were resistant to both oseltamivir and peramivir, but was sensitive to zanamivir.

Source: CDC

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