Weekly Influenza News

Flu News: April 5, 2019

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

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According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5 additional influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported during the 2018-2019 season. 

And, 1 additional death occurred during the 2017-2018 flu season. This death was associated with an influenza A virus and brings the total number of reported influenza-associated deaths during that season to 186. 

The total number of pediatric deaths related to the flu during the 2018-2019 season now totals 82, as of March 30, 2019. 

Nationally, influenza activity decreased but remains elevated in the USA, with influenza A(H1N1) viruses predominating from October to mid-February, and influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been more commonly identified since late February 2019. 

Additionally, small numbers of influenza B viruses have also been reported.

As of April 4, 2019, the CDC is now estimating the current flu season’s impact as follows:

  • 32,200,000 – 38,100,000 symptomatic illnesses
  • 15,300,000 – 17,800,000 medical visits
  • 452,000 – 549,000 hospitalizations
  • 30,6000 - 50,900 influenza-related deaths

The CDC’s Week #13 report included these indicators for the 2018-2019 influenza season:

  • The majority of influenza viruses characterized antigenically are similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2018–2019 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine viruses. However, an increasing proportion of influenza A(H3N2) viruses are antigenically distinguishable from A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (3C.2a1), a cell-propagated reference virus representing the A(H3N2) component of 2018-19 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.
  • 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) decreased to 3.2% and remains above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.
  • Six states experienced high ILI activity; 19 states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 13 states experienced low ILI activity; 12 states experienced minimal ILI activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had insufficient data.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 33 states was reported as widespread; 15 states reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and one state reported local activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam did not report.
  • A cumulative rate of 56.4 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported. The highest hospitalization rate is among adults 65 years and older (181.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 population).
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was at the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.

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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. 

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on April 1, 2019, that seasonal influenza A viruses accounted for the majority of detections:

  • In Europe, influenza activity decreased across the continent. Both influenza A viruses co-circulated.
  • In North Africa, influenza activity was still reported in some countries.
  • In Western Asia, influenza activity appeared to decrease overall, with the exception of some countries, where activity remained elevated.
  • In East Asia, although decreased influenza activity continued to be reported. Increased detections of influenza A(H3N2) and B (Victoria-lineage) viruses were reported in recent weeks.
  • In Southern Asia, influenza appeared to decrease with influenza A(H1N1) virus predominating.
  • In the Caribbean, Central American countries, and the tropical countries of South America, influenza and RSV activity were low in general.
  • In the temperate zones of the Southern Hemisphere, influenza activity remained at inter-seasonal levels, with the exception of some parts of Australia where influenza activity remained above inter-seasonal levels.

In the USA, antiviral medications and various flu vaccines remain available in most pharmacies. The CDC Vaccine Price List provides private sector vaccine prices for general information.

And, flu vaccine discounts can be found at GoodRx.com.

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Influenza vaccines, like any medication, can cause side effects, which should be reported to the CDC.