National Impact of Influenza 2011-2012

December 29, 2011  There has been little to no impact from influenza so far in the 2011-2012 flu season. Most of the activity reported thus far in the US has been sporadic at best; many states report no flu activity at all. Two states report local activity, and no state has reported regional or widespread activity. The flu season has not yet arrived for most of the United States. We can expect significant flu activity to begin in January or February.

Click here for the weekly CDC situation update.

Some perspective on the pediatric deaths    Each year since 2004, CDC has tracked the number of pediatric deaths due to seasonal flu (winter season flu). In the 2003-2004 flu season, 154 children died throughout the nation from “Fujian flu”, a particularly severe strain. Since then, the number of deaths nationally has ranged from 78 to 117 per flu season. There are approximately 75 million children under age 18 living in the United States. Approximately 2,000 children die each year in auto accidents

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Feb 25, 2011   Influenza is now widespread throughout virtually the entire country, the highest activity level of this season. Lingering regional activity in the West and plains states has now been replaced by widespread activity as well.

The peak in flu B noted in December has been replaced by flu A. Flu A now accounts for 78% of all isolates reported in state and national laboratories. Among flu A isolates identified this week, 56% have been A(H3N2) and 44% have been the 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic virus.

The circulating strains continue to show a good match with the strains contained in the current influenza vaccine. This means the vaccine should confer a good level of protection this year.

The proportion of specimens testing positive for flu in national labs was 31% during the past week after peaking at 36% last week. This means that a significant proportion of patients with flu-like illness do NOT have influenza, but in fact have illnesses that mimic the flu. Many respiratory viruses circulate in the winter and the symptoms overlap greatly with influenza. However, sypmtoms due to flu tend to be more severe and at the peak of the season influenza often accounts for 50% or more of the ILI cases in the nation.

Deaths due to pneumonia and influenza have risen well above the level expected for this time of year. Six pediatric deaths were reported this week, bringing the total to 41 for the season.

Feb 11, 2011    Influenza is now widespread throughout most of the country, although pockets of lighter activity remain, particularly on the West Coast.

Early data in December indicated that this season might be dominated by flu B. However, the early surge in flu B has abated, and this week at least 78% of isolates around the country were identified as influenza A. The 2009 H1N1 virus that caused the pandemic of 2009-2010 had been isolated in relatively low numbers throughout December and January, but now accounts for half of the influenza A isolates. Currently, the proportion of infections due to the three circulating strains is 39% for 2009 A(H1N1), 39% A(H3N2), and 22% influenza  B.

The circulating strains still show a good match with the strains contained in the current influenza vaccine. This means the vaccine should confer a good level of protection this year.

The proportion of specimens testing positive for flu in national labs is now over 30%. This means that a significant proportion of patients with flu-like illness do NOT have influenza, but in fact have illnesses that mimic the flu. Many respiratory viruses circulate in the winter and the symptoms overlap greatly with influenza. However, sypmtoms due to flu tend to be more severe and at the peak of the season influenza often accounts for 50% or more of the ILI cases in the nation.

Deaths due to pneumonia and influenza remain slightly above the level expected for this time of year. Eleven pediatric deaths were reported this week, bringing the total to 30 for the season.

January 21, 2011     Influenza activity is increasing around the country, although there are regional differences. After an initial focus in the US Southeast, activity expanded this week. Widespread activity is now reported in 17 states, up from 11 last week, and regional activity was reported from 15 states. The Midwest and West Coast states have less activity than the rest of the country.

Flu B was the most commonly isolated type in November and early December, but flu A has now established itself as the predominant type.  85% of fully characterized isolates this week were flu A, with A(H3N2) accounting for 75% and 2009 H1N1 accounting for the rest. Only 15% of isolates this week were flu B.

The circulating influenza strains show a good match with the strains contained in the current influenza vacciine. Years with a good match generally correlate with a higher degree of vaccine effectiveness.

The proportion of positive flu tests reported by collaborating laboratories has plateaued over the past three weeks at 25%. This means that during the week, flu was NOT isolated from 75% of patients with suspected influenza who had specimens submitted to these labs. At the peak of flu season, the proportion of positive tests is often 50% or higher.

Ten flu related pediatric deaths have been reported to CDC since October 2010. Pediatric deaths due to influenza have been reportable since the 2004 flu season. Approximately 1,200 children died due to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus last year.

Deaths nationwide due to pneumonia and influenza (P & I) are at seasonal levels and have not increased significantly. In general,  deaths due to P & I lag about 2-4 weeks behind flu activity.

December 31, 2010. Flu activity has increased nationwide as the calendar year draws to a close. Flu season appears to have arrived, but only for certain parts of the country. The focus of activity so far appears to be the US Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Six of ten regions in the nation are still reporting normal levels of influenza-like illness.

Flu B was the most commonly isolated type in November and early December, but flu A now appears to be establishing itself as the predominant type.  Two thirds of fully characterized isolates this week were flu A, with A(H3N2) accounting for all but a handful. One third of isolates this week were flu B. Approximately 10% of all isolates characterized this week were 2009 H1N1, the pandemic strain from last year.

The circulating influenza strains show a good match with the strains contained in the current influenza vacciine. Years with a good match generally correlate with a higher degree of vaccine effectiveness.

Four flu related pediatric deaths have been reported to CDC since October 2010. Pediatric deaths due to influenza have been reportable since the 2004 flu season. Approximately 1,200 children died due to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus last year.

Deaths nationwide due to pneumonia and influenza (P & I) are at seasonal levels and have not increased significantly. In general,  deaths due to P & I lag about 2-4 weeks behind flu activity.

December 10, 2010. There is very little flu activity in the United States as of the first week of December. The CDC reports that three states (Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky) had regional activity this week, but the rest of the states are reporting sporadic cases or none at all. Georgia had appeared to be heading for widespread activity, but flu activity in Georgia dropped substantially over the past week.

There have been at least 10 confirmed deaths due to flu in the US over the past two months. Flu associated hospitalizations have begun to rise but the numbers are still relatively small. About 10% of flu cultures submitted to national laboratories have been positive for influenza in the past week. At the height of our yearly influenza epidemics, flu will be isolated from up to 50% of specimens submitted.

While there were some clues over the past month pointing toward the start of an early flu season, the data now are less convincing. It would be unusual for the annual influenza epidemic to begin in November/December.

 

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June 2010.  Flu activity has all but disappeared in the United States after a slight resurgence from February to April in the US Southeast. Only one state (Hawaii) was reporting local activity as of the final CDC report for the 2009-2010 season (May 30), while the rest of the states reported sporadic acitivity or no activity at all. The percentage of visits to clinics and emergency departments for influenza like illness has declined to the summer baseline. The second wave of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic is over.

The last Pediatric death due to 2009 H1N1 occurred in March 2009. From April 2009 to May 2010 there were a total of 285 deaths in children due to the Swine Flu and another 53 deaths from influenza isolates that were not further characterized.  The overall mid-point estimate of deaths in all age groups due to pandemic 2009 H1N1 is approximately 12,000. The CDC has estimated that an average of 23,000 people  have died from influenza each year over the past 25 years.

Some perspective on the pediatric deaths    Each year since 2004, CDC has tracked the number of pediatric deaths due to seasonal flu (winter season flu). In the 2003-2004 flu season, 154 children died throughout the nation from “Fujian flu”, a particularly severe strain. Since then, the number of deaths nationally has ranged from 78 to 117 per flu season. There are approximately 75 million children under age 18 living in the United States. Approximately 2,000 children die each year in auto accidents.

 

 

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cdc situation overview

Each week CDC analyzes information about influenza disease activity in the United States and publishes findings of key flu indicators in graphical form in a report called FluView. See the latest update by clicking here.

For an in-depth discussion about the national flu situation this week, click here.