Weekly Influenza News

Northern Hemisphere Flu News Turns Positive

CDC confirmed 109 influenza-associated pediatric deaths during the 2018-2019 northern hemisphere flu season
field of sunflowers

The flu news this week has many positive attributes, but with one negative exception.   

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the Northern Hemisphere flu season is ending. 

Worldwide, seasonal influenza A viruses accounted for 60.2 percent of detections, as of May 11, 2019. 

The CDC reports the proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness decreased to 1.5 percent, which is below the national baseline of 2.2 percent. 

But, the number of pediatric deaths associated with an influenza virus increased by 3 cases during Week #19. These cases increase the 2018-2019 total to 109 pediatric fatalities. 

Which is far less than the 186 pediatric deaths confirmed during the 2017-2018 flu season, as of April 19, 2019. 

Separately, the WHO reported on May 13, 2019, Update #341, that both North America and Europe saw reduced influenza activity.

Additionally, the WHO reported the following updates:

  • In North Africa, influenza detections were low across reporting countries.
  • In West and Middle Africa, influenza activity was low across reporting countries. Influenza activity continued to be reported from Eastern Africa although in decreasing trend with predominantly influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 followed by A(H3N2) detections.
  • In Western Asia, influenza activity decreased overall
  • Saudi Arabia activity remained elevated.
  • In the Caribbean, Central American countries, and the tropical countries of South America, influenza and RSV activity were low.

Further WHO reporting in the temperate zones of the Southern Hemisphere found influenza detections increased in southern Australia and South Africa. And, the influenza activity in South America remained at inter-seasonal levels. 

The CDC says the majority of influenza viruses show susceptibility to medications, such as oseltamivir, peramivir, and zanamivir. 

In the USA, most pharmacies offer these antiviral medicines and various flu vaccines. To help those without access to insurance programs, financial assistance programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts.

Relevant Links: CDC vaccination schedules,  CDC vaccine price list,  international travel alerts,  and how to report vaccine side effects.