Weekly Influenza News

CDC Flu News: Week # 48

185 pediatric deaths were reported during the 2017/2018 influenza season

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported influenza activity for Week #48, on December 7, 2018. 

The best news in this week’s report is that there were no additional flu-related, pediatric deaths. 

As of this report, there have been 5 reported pediatric deaths related to the influenza virus during the 2018-19 season, reports the CDC. 

As of October 27, 2018, a total of 185 children died from influenza during the 2017-18, which is an all-time record. 

Moreover, less than 60 percent of these fatalities had received the flu vaccine, reported the CDC.   

Influenza activity in the United States increased slightly, said the CDC. 

Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B viruses continue to co-circulate, with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses reported most commonly by public health laboratories between September 30 and December 1, 2018. 

The highlights of the CDC’s December 1st dataset are as follows:

  1. Viral Surveillance: Influenza A viruses have predominated in the United States since the beginning of October.
  2. Virus Characterization: The majority of influenza viruses characterized antigenically and genetically are similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2018–2019 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine viruses.
  3. Antiviral Resistance: All viruses tested show susceptibility to the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir).
  4. Influenza-like Illness Surveillance: The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) remained at 2.2%, which is at the national baseline of 2.2%.
  5. Four of 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.
  6. Two states experienced high ILI activity; 2 states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City and 8 states experienced low ILI activity; and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 38 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  7. A cumulative rate of 1.3 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  8. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  9. No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC for week 48.

Regarding new flu news, the CDC highlighted the new anti-viral medication Xofluza in a press release.   

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The FDA said on December 3, 2018, Xofluza could be especially helpful in the event of the emergence of widespread resistance to the other influenza antiviral medicines. 

Xofluza is a cap-dependent endonuclease inhibitor that interferes with viral RNA transcription and blocks virus replication. 

This means that it blocks the ability of the flu virus to make copies of itself within an infected cell. 

In the United States, there are 3 FDA-approved neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral drugs: oseltamivir (Tamiflu) for oral administration, zanamivir (Relenza) for oral inhalation using an inhaler device, and peramivir (Rapivab) for intravenous administration. 

These antiviral medications and various flu vaccines are available in most pharmacies in the USA.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information. 

And, vaccine discounts can be found here.   

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the CDC.