Weekly Influenza News

Flu News for June 21, 2019

Pediatric deaths related to influenza viruses reached 116 cases
man sitting on a cliff overlooking the desert

The Northern Hemisphere influenza season differed from recent seasons in that there were 2 separate ‘waves’ of influenza A activity across the USA. 

The preliminary estimates for the 2018–19 season fall within these ranges: 

  • influenza virus infection caused 9.3 million–49 million symptomatic illnesses,
  • 4.3 million–23 million medical visits,
  • 140,000–960,000 hospitalizations, and
  • 12,000–79,000 deaths, with 116 pediatric deaths reported from Chicago, New York City, and 41 states, by May 2019.

Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses predominated early in the season, with influenza A(H3N2) viruses being reported more late in the season, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In contrast to the number of influenza A viruses reported, the number of influenza B viruses reported was low, compared with previous seasons, accounting for only 4 percent of influenza viruses reported by public health laboratories. 

According to the CDC, receiving a seasonal influenza vaccine each year remains the best way to protect against the flu and its potentially severe consequences. 

Regarding treating people with the flu, 4 influenza antiviral drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of acute uncomplicated influenza within 2 days of illness onset and are recommended for use in the USA: oseltamivir, zanamivir, peramivir, and baloxavir. 

The vast majority of influenza viruses tested during the 2018–19 season were susceptible to antivirals oseltamivir and peramivir, and all tested viruses were susceptible to zanamivir and baloxavir, says the CDC. 

Additionally, influenza illnesses are often reported during the summer. Influenza should be suspected in ill travelers returning from countries in the Southern Hemisphere, with ongoing influenza activity. 

Pre-trip flu shot and medication counseling sessions can be scheduled at Vax-Before-Travel.

Recent flu news:

Healthcare providers should not rely on less sensitive assays such as rapid antigen detection influenza diagnostic tests to inform treatment decisions, says the CDC.

Additional information regarding influenza viruses, influenza surveillance, influenza vaccine, influenza antiviral medications, and novel influenza A infections in humans is available online. 

Most pharmacies in the USA offer 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.