Weekly Influenza News

CDC & WHO Flu News: February 8, 2019

28 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been confirmed in the USA during the 2018-2019 flu season

2018-2019 leap

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization have issued updates to their weekly influenza reports, as of February 2, 2019. 

This week’s CDC data indicates influenza activity increased in the United States over the past week. And, influenza A(H1N1), influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B viruses continue to co-circulate. 

Specifically, the CDC’s Week #5 data is estimating the 2018/19 flu season impact in the USA as follows: 

  • 13,200,000 – 15,200,000 symptomatic illnesses
  • 6,200,000 – 7,200,000 medical visits
  • 155,000 – 186,000 hospitalizations

Unfortunately, 4 additional influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported during week #5, which increases the 2018-2019 total to 28 deaths. 

Additionally, a new study published end-of-season influenza Vaccine Efficacy (VE) for the 2017-2018 flu season 

This study said the various flu vaccines were ‘mediocre’, averaging a 38 percent VE. 

But, flu shots were still estimated to have prevented 7 million illnesses and 8,000 deaths. 

The CDC’s key influenza indicators for the week ending February 2, 2019, are as follows: 

  • The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in clinical laboratories increased. Influenza A viruses have predominated in the United States since the beginning of October. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses have predominated in most areas of the country, however, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated in the southeastern United States (HHS Region 4).
  • 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.
  • The vast majority of influenza viruses tested (>99%) show susceptibility to oseltamivir and peramivir. All influenza viruses tested showed susceptibility to zanamivir.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased to 4.3%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.
  • New York City and 24 states experienced high ILI activity; Puerto Rico and 10 states experienced moderate ILI activity; the District of Columbia and 13 states experienced low ILI activity, and 3 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 47 states was reported as widespread; two states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and one state reported local activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity, and Guam did not report.
  • A cumulative rate of 20.1 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported. The highest hospitalization rate is among adults 65 years and older (53.0 hospitalizations per 100,000 population).
  • 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.

On February 4, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) said flu activity ‘picked up in Europe and North Africa’. 

The H1N1 virus is the dominant subtype in North Africa and East Asia. And, Europe has reported both H1N1 and H3N2 circulating at similar proportions. 

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While H3N2 has been the dominant subtype in Southern Asia and Iran. 

Data collected from national influenza laboratories between Jan 7 and Jan 20 showed that 98.3 percent of positive flu samples were typed as influenza A and 11.7 percent as influenza B. 

Of the sub-typed influenza A viruses, 77.7 percent were influenza 2009 H1N1 and 22.3 percent were H3N2, reported the WHO. 

The WHO’s segmented details are as follows:

  • Caribbean: Influenza virus activity increased and lower RSV activity was reported throughout most of the sub-region. In Cuba and Suriname, SARI activity was low with increased influenza A(H1N1) circulation. Bronchiolitis consultations remained above seasonal levels in most of the French Territories.
  • Central America: Epidemiological indicators remained at moderate levels and influenza activity was low throughout the sub-region with influenza A(H1N1) and B co-circulating. Overall, RSV activity decreased; while in Costa Rica, RSV circulation continued elevated. In Costa Rica, moderate pneumonia and SARI activity were reported associated with influenza and RSV.
  • Andean Region: Overall influenza activity decreased in the sub-region with influenza A(H3N2) predominance. In Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, influenza A(H3N2) and B co-circulated with moderate SARI activity.
  • Brazil and Southern Cone: Influenza activity was low throughout the sub-region. Brazil and Chile, influenza-associated SARI cases decreased associated with influenza B detections.

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

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

And, flu vaccine discounts can be found here.         

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