Weekly Influenza News

CDC Flu News for March 8, 2019

64 influenza-associated pediatric deaths confirmed during the 2018-2019 flu season

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published updated influenza information for October 1, 2018, to March 2, 2019. 

As of March 7, 2019, the CDC says during week #9, influenza A(H3) viruses were reported more frequently than influenza A(H1N1) viruses.   

And, during the most recent 3 weeks, influenza A(H3) viruses were reported more frequently than influenza A(H1N1) viruses in certain Regions. 

This new CDC data indicates the USA remains in the ‘peak’ flu season. For example, 32 states are experiencing high influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity. 

Last year, during the 2017-2018 flu season, ILI activity remained elevated through the end of March. 

Which means, if you have not already received a flu shot this year, the CDC says you still have time to visit a local pharmacy, nurse or doctor. 

These CDC recommendations are important since 64 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported during the 2018-2019 season. 

Eight of these 64 pediatric deaths were reported during week #9. 

During the 2017-2018 flu season, a total of 185 pediatric deaths had been reported to CDC.  Approximately 80 percent of those deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination. 

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In aggregate, the CDC is estimating the current flu season’s impact through March 2, 2019, as follows:

  • 22,800,000 – 26,300,000 symptomatic illnesses
  • 10,600,000 – 12,400,000 medical visits
  • 289000 – 347,000 hospitalizations
  • 18,900 - 31,200 flu-related deaths

Additionally, the CDC reported the key influenza indicators for the week ending March 2, 2019, which are as follows:

  • Virus Characterization: The majority of influenza viruses characterized antigenically are similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2018–2019 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine viruses.
  • Antiviral Resistance: The vast majority of influenza viruses tested (>99%) show susceptibility to oseltamivir and peramivir. All influenza viruses tested showed susceptibility to zanamivir.
  • Influenza-like Illness Surveillance: The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) decreased slightly to 4.7%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.
  • ILI State Activity Indicator Map: 32 states experienced high ILI activity; Puerto Rico and seven states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City, the District of Columbia and eight states experienced low ILI activity; three states experienced minimal ILI activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had insufficient data.
  • Geographic Spread of Influenza: The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 48 states was reported as widespread; the District of Columbia and two states reported local activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity, and Guam did not report.
  • Influenza-associated Hospitalizations: A cumulative rate of 36.6 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported. The highest hospitalization rate is among adults 65 years and older (107.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 population).
  • Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality: The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.

Recent influenza news:

  • The World Health Organization’s weekly influenza trend information for March 6, 2019, can be found at this link. 
  • Roche announced that the United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for Xofluza™ (baloxavir marboxil), as a single-dose, oral treatment for people at high risk of complications from the flu.  
  • At the February 27, 2019 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a study reaffirmed ‘there is not a link between influenza vaccines and miscarriages.’ 

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.

Note:  All CDC data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received. The CDC uses a model to estimate the numbers of influenza illnesses, medical visits, and hospitalizations in the United States.