Influenza activity increased for the third consecutive week and has now reached its highest point for the 2018-2019 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) hit 4.3% for the week ending Feb. 2, which topped the previous high of 4.0% that was reached in late December (the national baseline rate is 2.2%). Outpatient ILI visits then dipped down to 3.1% after 2 weeks of decreases before rising again in mid-January, the CDC’s influenza division reported Feb. 8.
Season-high activity also was seen at the state level for the week ending Feb. 2. There were 18 states at level 10 on the CDC’s 1-10 scale of ILI activity, which was up from 16 the week before, and a total of 24 states were in the high range from 8-10, compared with 23 for the previous week. The geographic spread of influenza was reported as widespread in 47 states and Puerto Rico, the CDC said.
Four flu-related pediatric deaths were reported during the week ending Feb. 2, two of which occurred the previous week, which brings the total for the 2018-2019 season to 28, the CDC said.
There were 158 flu-related deaths among all ages during the week ending Jan. 26 – the latest for which such data are available – with reporting almost 75% complete. The previous week saw 177 overall flu deaths, with reporting for that week over 90% complete. During the corresponding weeks of the very severe 2017-2018 flu season, the overall death totals were 1,448 and 1,626, CDC data show.