New year brings reduced flu activity



Influenza-like illness (ILI) activity was down during the first full week in January – a not-so-unlucky week 13 of the 2015-2016 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

South Carolina was at level 8, making it the only state in the “high” range of activity for the week ending Jan. 9. Puerto Rico was also at level 8, but there was no state in the “moderate” range and only seven states in the “low” range: Arizona and Maryland at level 5 and Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia at level 4. There were 18 states at level 2 or higher, compared with 24 the previous week, according to data from the CDC’s Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network.

The proportion of outpatient visits for ILI was 2% for week 13, which was down from 2.8% in week 12 and below the national baseline of 2.1%, the CDC said. ILI is defined as fever (temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) and cough and/or sore throat.

One ILI-related pediatric death was reported during week 13, although it actually occurred in December. So far, there have been seven pediatric deaths reported during the 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC report noted.

Since Oct. 1, 2015, there have been 423 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations reported in the 13 states – including California, New York, and Ohio – of the CDC’s Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network, for an overall hospitalization rate of 1.5 per 100,000 population. That rate, however, is “likely to be an underestimate as influenza-related hospitalizations can be missed, either because testing is not performed, or because cases may be attributed to other causes of pneumonia or other common influenza-related complications,” the CDC said.

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