News from the FDA/CDC

CDC: Flu levels highest since pandemic year 2009


Influenza activity continued to increase in the week ending Jan. 20, and the 2017-2018 flu season continues to look a lot like the 2009-2010 pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That season was dominated by influenza A (H3N2), and the 2017-2018 season seems to be going down that same path. For the week ending Jan. 20, the proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness increased to 6.6%, which is, for the second consecutive week, the highest level reported since October of – you guessed it – 2009, when it hit 7.7%, the CDC said in its weekly flu surveillance report.

The level reported last week, 6.3%, has been revised downward and now stands at an even 6%.

It turns out that 2018 is something of a milestone for the H3N2 virus. The virus first emerged in 1968, so it has reached its 50th anniversary, Dan Jernigan, MD, director of the influenza division at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Atlanta, said on Jan. 26 in a weekly briefing.

H3N2 must not be happy about hitting the big 5-0, however, because the map of influenza-like illness activity looks pretty red and angry. For the week ending Jan. 20, there were 30 states at the highest level of flu activity on the CDC’s 1-10 scale, with another nine in the “high” range at levels 8 and 9.

Dr. Jernigan did suggest that activity may have peaked in some areas of the country, with California among them.

There were seven pediatric deaths reported for the week ending Jan. 20, although six occurred in previous weeks. There have been 37 flu-related deaths among children so far during the 2017-2018 season, the CDC said.

Influenza-like illness activity level, week ending Jan. 20, 2018

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