Although flu season continues strong in the some regions of the nation, most states are reporting decreases in influenza activity during the 5th reporting week of 2013.
Once again hospitalization rates for those over the age of 65, and the 122 City P&I (Pneumonia & Influenza) Mortality Rates remain elevated. Sadly, another 14 pediatric flu-related fatalities were reported in week 5 as well.
Overall, however, outpatient visits for influenza-like-illness are on the decline, as the following chart (red line) illustrates.
Some excerpts from this week’s FluView follow:
All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.
During week 5 (January 27 - February 2, 2013), influenza activity remained elevated in the United States, but decreased in most areas.
- Viral Surveillance: Of 10,132 specimens tested and reported by collaborating laboratories, 2,362 (23.3%) were positive for influenza.
- Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality: The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.
- Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths: Fourteen pediatric deaths were reported.
- Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations: A cumulative rate for the season of 29.8 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported. Of all hospitalizations, more than 50% were among adults 65 years and older.
- Outpatient Illness Surveillance: The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 3.6%. This is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI above region-specific baseline levels. Nineteen states and New York City experienced high ILI activity; 12 states experienced moderate activity; 13 states experienced low activity; 6 states experienced minimal activity; and the District of Columbia had insufficient data.
- Geographic Spread of Influenza: Thirty-eight states reported widespread influenza activity; 9 states reported regional influenza activity; the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 2 states reported local influenza activity; one state reported sporadic influenza activity; Guam reported no influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report.
While 14 new pediatric deaths were reported this week, most occurred in weeks prior to reporting week five. This brings the total to 59 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported during the 2012-2013 season.
Fourteen influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 5. Three were associated with influenza A (H3) viruses and occurred during weeks 4 and 5 (weeks ending January 26 and February 2, 2013), 4 were associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype was not determined and occurred during weeks 51, 1, 2, and 4 (weeks ending December 22, 2012, January 5, January 12, and January 26, 2013), and seven were associated with influenza B viruses and occurred during weeks 52, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (weeks ending December 29, 2012, January 12, January 19, January 26, and February 2, 2013).
Hospitalization rates, particularly for those over 65, remain very high, as the remarkable chart below shows. Well over 50% of all those hospitalized with laboratory confirmed influenza are over the age of 65.
And finally, while the P&I Mortality rate has dropped to 9%, it still remains higher than any we’ve seen over the past several flu seasons.
A month ago CDC Director Frieden pointed out the heavy toll this flu season was having on the elderly (see CDC Media Briefing), and stressed the importance of seeking early medical treatment, including the use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for high risk patients
While flu may be showing signs of receding, the advice from the CDC on flu prevention still remains very much worth following.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.*
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick with flu–like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
UPDATE: Just as I posted this, Maggie Fox of NBC NEWS published this report on the number of hospitalizations and deaths during this 2012-2013 flu season, particularly among the elderly.
By Maggie Fox Senior Writer
This year’s especially grim flu season has been sickening and killing a very high number of people over 65, federal officials report -- even people who consider themselves relatively healthy and not frail.
The latest flu statistics show that while the season is leveling off, it’s still a bad one for seniors.