Weekly Influenza News

CDC Flu News: Week #1

30 American states reported widespread influenza activity through January 5, 2019
2018-2019 jumping the crevass

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the weekly influenza report ending January 5, 2019. 

For Week #1, the CDC is estimating between 6,150,000 – 7,280,000 people have symptomatic illnesses, 2,920,000 – 3,510,00 medical visits, and 69,300 – 83,500 hospitalizations for the 2018-19 flu season.   

This CDC report includes data from October 2018, and are subject to several limitations and potential changes. 

Unfortunately, 3 additional influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported during Week #1. 

These new fatalities increase the 2018-2019 flu season total to 16. 

This compares with last flu season when 185 pediatric fatalities were related to influenza. 

Additionally, the CDC reported Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B viruses continue to co-circulate through January 5, 2019:

  • The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in clinical laboratories decreased slightly. 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.
  • All viruses tested show susceptibility to the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir).
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) decreased from 4.0% to 3.5%, but remains above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.
  • New York City and 15 states experienced high ILI activity; 12 states experienced moderate ILI activity; the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and eight states experienced low ILI activity; and 15 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in 30 states was reported as widespread; Puerto Rico and 17 states reported regional activity; two states reported local activity; the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and one state reported sporadic activity; and Guam did not report.
  • A cumulative rate of 9.1 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported. The highest hospitalization rate is among adults 65 years and older (22.9 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.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported an increase of influenza activity across most of the Northern Hemisphere, with the 2009 H1N1 strain dominating in North America and Eastern Asia. 

In North America, pediatric hospitalizations in Canada picked up, mirroring the 2011-2012 flu season. Mexico is also seeing increased H1N1 activity. 

Additionally, the WHO said the influenza season appears to have started in East Asia. 

"ILI activity increased further with mainly influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 reported in China and Hong Kong SAR. ILI levels sharply increased in the Republic of Korea, with mainly influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 detections," the WHO said in its update. 

In Europe, both influenzas A strains H1N1 and H3N2 were circulating in equal proportions. In Iran, activity increased because of circulating H3N2. 

Of all flu specimens tested worldwide, 93.8 percent were influenza A. Of subtyped influenza A viruses, 77 percent were 2009 H1N1 and 23 percent were H3N2. 

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

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

And, flu 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.