Flu Rates Rising, Pediatric Deaths Double Compared to 2018: CDC

Troy Brown, RN

December 30, 2019

The proportion of outpatient visits for influenzalike illness rose from 3.9% to 5.1% during the week ending December 21 in the United States ― 8 weeks earlier than last season, when it peaked at 5.1% during the week ending February 16 (week 7), according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At least 2100 have died so far this season, including 22 children. The number of children who have died from influenza and pneumonia is twice as high as it was last season at this time.

An estimated 4.6 million have been sickened by influenzalike illness, with 39,000 hospitalizations.

Nationally, the predominant strain is B/Victoria, followed by A(H1N1)pdm09 and A(H3N2).

High influenza activity was reported in Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, New York City, and 25 states, compared with New York City and nine states at this time last year. Activity was moderate in six states, low in nine states, and minimal in six states.

Geographically, influenza activity was widespread in 39 states, regional in nine states, local in the District of Columbia and two states, and sporadic in the US Virgin Islands. Guam and 11 states were experiencing widespread activity at this time last season.

The cumulative rate of laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations was 6.6 per 100,000. Rates were highest among adults aged 65 years or older (14.4), followed by young children aged 0 to 4 years (12.5) and adults aged 50 to 64 years (7.0).

The percentage of respiratory specimens that tested positive for influenza in clinical laboratories increased from 16.3% to 22.1%.

The percentage of deaths from pneumonia and influenza was 5.7%, below the epidemic threshold of 6.7%.

The CDC continues to stress the importance of vaccination for prevention and antiviral medications for treatment. "Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza. Almost all (>99%) of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the four [US Food and Drug Administration]–approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the US this season," according to the CDC.

CDC. FluView, update for week ending December 21, 2019. Full text

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