CDC flu barometers show level activity

Feb 19, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Pandemic flu activity in the United States stayed level for the fourth week in a row, though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported slight increases in the number of outpatient visits for flu-like illnesses and deaths from pneumonia and influenza.

In its surveillance report for the week ending Feb 13, the CDC said that, although doctor visits for flu-like illness were up a bit, the level was still below the national baseline and low for this time year.

The CDC added that this bump in flu-like illness appears to be fueled by increases above area-specific baselines in three of its regions, the same ones that reported increases during the previous week: the region that includes eight southeastern states; the Midwestern region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska; and the southwestern region, which includes Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, and Nevada.

The small increase in deaths from pneumonia and influenza also was still below the epidemic threshold and lower than what the CDC anticipates at this point in the flu season.

Two new pediatric deaths were reported, one from Georgia and one from New York. Both were linked to the pandemic H1N1 virus and were reported between Jan 31 and Feb 6. Since August, the CDC has received reports of 217 pediatric deaths from the pandemic virus. Another 44 were from non-subtyped influenza A.

No states reported widespread flu activity, and the number of states reporting regional activity dropped last week from six to three. Only Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina reported regional activity. Nine states and Puerto Rico reported local influenza activity.

During the previous week, influenza B circulated at low levels alongside the pandemic virus, accounting for about 3% of positive specimens. The influenza B viruses that the CDC has characterized so far have all been from the Victoria lineage, which is included in this season's trivalent flu vaccine.

No new oseltamivir (Tamiflu)-resistant pandemic H1N1 cases have been reported since the CDC's last surveillance update.

Earlier this week Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services said 155 million doses of pandemic vaccine have been released, and 70 million Americans have been vaccinated. She made the comments at a public health preparedness conference hosted in Atlanta by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

See also:

CDC influenza update for week ending Feb 13

Feb 17 CIDRAP News story "Sebelius lauds pandemic partnerships"

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