Weekly Influenza News

CDC Flu News: Week #49

During 2018 Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B viruses continue to co-circulate
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Influenza activity in the United States remained slightly elevated through December 8, 2018, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B viruses continue to co-circulate, with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses reported most commonly by public health laboratories since September 30, 2018. 

Unfortunately, 1 additional influenza-associated pediatric death was reported for week 49.

This increase brings the total number of pediatric deaths to 6 for 2018. 

While the flu vaccine can vary in how well it works each season, a CDC study published in Pediatrics showed that flu vaccination can be life-saving for children. 

As of Week #49, the CDC reported: 

  • Viral Surveillance: Influenza A viruses have predominated in the United States since the beginning of October 2018,
  • Virus Characterization: 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 flu viruses tested show susceptibility to the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir),
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) remained at 2.2%, which is at the national baseline of 2.2%,
  • Five of 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level,
  • Just 1 state experienced high ILI activity,
  • The geographic spread of influenza in 3 states was reported as widespread,
  • A cumulative rate of 1.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported,
  • 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, a new estimate of disease burden due to flu, the most detailed demographic analysis of its kind so far, found that lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) due to flu are linked to about 145,000 deaths each year. 

For the flu death estimate of 145,000, the 95% confidence interval (CI) was 99,000 to 200,000 said these researchers on December 7, 2018, in The Lancet.  

For the study, researchers from the Global Disease Burden 2017 Influenza Collaboration looked at flu incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths for every country and select sub-national areas by age and year from 1990 to 2017 as part of ongoing global disease study. 

"Although preparedness planning will be important for potential pandemics, health loss due to seasonal influenza LRTIs should not be overlooked, and vaccine use should be considered" these authors concluded. 

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.