The CDC's FluView Week 6 report is out, and it shows that this year's season - while still greatly elevated - may be trying to plateau. As the chart above illustrates, visits to doctors for flu-like illnesses continue to run very near the peak levels seen during the 2009 pandemic.
Even as the number H3N2 cases begins to decrease, the number of influenza B cases continues to rise, this past week making up more than 1/3rd (33.8%) of all flu positive samples tested by the CDC.
Hospitalizations continue to set records (67.4 per 100,000), already exceeding the end-of-season totals seen during the severe 2014-15 flu season when roughly 700,000 people were hospitalized.
With another 6 weeks or more of flu to go, these numbers could go considerably higher.
And tragically, another 22 pediatric flu-related deaths were reported during the past week, although as often is the case, some of these deaths are delayed reports from earlier in the season.
Some highlights from today's much larger report follow.
2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 6 ending February 10, 2018(Continue . . . )
All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.
Synopsis:During week 6 (February 4-10, 2018), influenza activity remained elevated in the United States.
- Viral Surveillance: The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 6 was influenza A(H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remained elevated.
- Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality: The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
- Influenza-associated Pediatric Deaths: Twenty-two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
- Influenza-associated Hospitalizations: A cumulative rate of 67.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
- Outpatient Illness Surveillance:The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 7.5%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 43 states experienced high ILI activity; two states experienced moderate ILI activity; three states experienced low ILI activity; and two states experienced minimal ILI activity.
- Geographic Spread of Influenza:The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 48 states was reported as widespread; one state reported regional activity; the District of Columbia, Guam and one state reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported no activity.
As always, it isn't too late to get the flu shot. And with influenza B and H1N1 rising, it could still offer some valuable protection. But most of all, now is the time to practice good flu hygiene.
Stay home if you are sick, avoid crowds, wash your hands frequently, and cover your coughs and sneezes.While we may have reached the peak of this flu season, there is undoubtedly a good deal of flu in store for the next few weeks.