News from the FDA/CDC

Flu season showing signs of decline


The 2018-2019 flu season may have peaked as measures of influenza-like illness (ILI) activity dropped in the first week of the new year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza: First week of 2019

The proportion of outpatients visits for ILI dropped to 3.5% for the week ending Jan. 5, 2019, after reaching 4.0% the previous week. Outpatient ILI visits first topped the national baseline of 2.2% during the week ending Dec. 8, 2018, and have remained above that value for 5 consecutive weeks, the CDC’s influenza division said on Jan. 11.

Flu activity reported by the states reflects the national drop: 10 states came in at level 10 on the CDC’s 1-10 scale of activity for the week ending Jan. 5 – down from 12 the week before – and a total of 15 were in the high range from 8 to 10, compared with 19 the previous week, the CDC said. Two states, Mississippi and Texas, dropped from level 10 to level 7, which the CDC categorizes as moderate activity.

A total of 73 ILI-related deaths were reported during the week ending Dec. 29 (the latest with data available; reporting less than 68% complete), which already exceeds the 71 deaths reported for the week ending Dec. 22 (reporting 85% complete). Flu deaths totaled 437 through the first 13 weeks of the 2018-2019 season, compared with the 1,659 that occurred during weeks 1-13 of the very severe 2017-2018 season, CDC data show.

For the week ending Jan. 5, the CDC received reports of three flu-related pediatric deaths, all of which occurred the previous week. For the season so far, there have been 16 pediatric deaths, compared with 20 at this point in the 2017-2018 season.

Estimates released during the flu season for the first time show that between 6 and 7 million Americans have been infected since Oct. 1, 2018, and that 69,000-84,000 people have been hospitalized with the flu through Jan. 5, 2019. These cumulative totals have previously been available only at the end of the season, the CDC noted.

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