Mash up from Multiple FluView Reports
In yesterday’s blog CDC FluView Week 3 I featured the dramatic spike in this week’s Pneumonia & Influenza 122 city mortality rate and compared it to other `moderately severe’ flu seasons we’ve seen over the past dozen years.
At 9.8%, this week’s P&I mortality is certainly elevated, but comes in 3rd place compared to the P&I levels we saw during the 1999-00 and 2003-04 flu seasons.
So while high, this week’s P&I mortality rate is not unprecedented.
It is a concern, however, particularly to those over the age of 65 who are being the hardest hit during this H3N2 dominated flu season. The CDC issued a statement yesterday afternoon (excerpts below), urging those in high risk groups to seek early treatment for the flu.
CDC Urges People 65 and Older to Seek Treatment for Flu Symptoms Promptly
January 25, 2013 -- Influenza continues to cause a lot of illness across the country and flu-related hospitalization and death indicators have increased sharply in recent weeks. The latest FluView report shows some indicators decreasing while others continue to rise and underscores again that this flu season is taking the heaviest toll on people 65 and older. CDC is urging seniors to seek treatment for flu-like symptoms promptly and for physicians to treat flu with antiviral medications in these high risk patients as early as possible to avert more serious outcomes.
“It’s not surprising to see severity indicators increasing at this point in the season because hospitalizations and deaths typically lag behind other flu activity indicators - but the increases are visually dramatic,” says CDC’s Dr. Lyn Finelli. “The overall picture is clear. This season is severe for seniors, who are being hit hardest in terms of serious illnesses and deaths. It’s really important that these people seek care and get treated promptly.” Finelli is Lead for the Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team in CDC’s Influenza Division.
Antiviral treatment, started as early as possible after becoming ill with influenza, is recommended for any patients with confirmed or suspected influenza who are hospitalized, seriously ill, or ill and at high risk of serious influenza-related complications, including young children, people 65 and older, people with certain underlying medical conditions and pregnant women. Treatment should begin as soon as influenza is suspected, regardless of vaccination status or rapid test results and should not be delayed for confirmatory testing.
The proportion of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza (P & I) reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System is significantly elevated this week (9.8%), up considerably from last (8.4%), making this the third consecutive week that the proportion has been above epidemic threshold. (The epidemic threshold for Week 3 is 7.3%). Finelli explains, “This is the highest we’ve seen P & I go in nearly a decade, but it’s comparable to recorded percentages for past severe seasons, including 2003-2004 when P&I reached 10%, 1999-2000 when it reached 11.2%, 1998-1999 when it reached 9.7%, and 1997-1998 when it reached 9.8%. So yes, it’s a severe season, but it’s certainly not unprecedented for seasonal influenza.”