Flu activity continues to wane in Eastern and Southern states, but cases are on the rise out West, the CDC reported Friday.
Slight increases were reported for Western regions that include California, Oregon, and Washington, the agency said in its flu activity report for the week ending Jan. 26. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza came down slightly, to 9.4 percent from last week’s 9.8 percent — but that figure remains well above the epidemic threshold of 7.4 percent, the agency said.
The week ended in the same number of pediatric deaths as the one prior, and the additional eight deaths brings the national total based on data from New York City and 20 states to 45 children killed in this year’s flu season. The total had already surpassed last year’s 34 pediatric deaths, but is lower than the 122 seen in the 2010-2011 season and the 282 seen during the H1N1 epidemic.
Over the course of the season, the rate of hospitalizations due to flu was 25.9 per 100,000 population, with seniors hardest hit, accounting for more than half of all reported hospitalized cases.
As for outpatient disease, 4.2 percent of visits during the week ending Jan. 26 were due to influenza-like illness, above the national baseline of 2.2 percent, researchers reported. Regionally, those rates ranged from 2.4 percent to 6.7 percent.
Such activity has remained relatively stable since
last week’s 4.3 percent, which was a decline from 4.6 percent and 4.8 percent the 2 weeks prior.
Twenty-four states were still reporting high levels of flu-like disease activity, down from 26 states last week and 30 states the week prior.
Most cases were due to influenza A strains, particularly H3N2 viruses, which were still showing wide susceptibility to neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).
The agency again reminded clinicians and the general public of the need for fast antiviral treatment especially the elderly and other high-risk groups such as pregnant women, people with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disorders.
A total of 134.2 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed to providers, but the agency noted that patients who are still seeking the shot may need to call more than one provider to get it.
- Republished with permission from EverydayHealth.com