Though flu activity in the United States is at low levels, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported the first pediatric flu death of the new season.
The CDC is in its second week of its reporting on the 2018-19 flu season, and the latest report covers activity for the week ending Oct 13.
Child flu death details
The child's death was reported to the CDC during the week of Oct 13 and was linked to an unsubtyped influenza A virus.
Last season, 180 pediatric flu deaths were reported, the most for a non-pandemic year since the CDC began tracking pediatric deaths in 2004.
In a situation update today, the CDC emphasized that the flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu and potentially serious complications. It added that there are more flu vaccination options this season, including the return of the nasal spray version to the US market.
Also, CDC urges that everyone age 6 months and older be vaccinated by the end of October.
US flu markers stay low
Only two states—Massachusetts and North Dakota—and Guam are reporting local flu activity, and 40 states and the District of Columbia reported sporadic activity.
All indicators that the CDC uses to track flu are below their thresholds. For example, the percentage of people visiting health providers for flulike illness nationally is at 1.4%, well below the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 of the CDC's regions are below their baselines for outpatient visits for flu.
The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for flu is at 0.8%. Of positive samples at public health labs, 86.4% were influenza A and 13.6% were influenza B. Of the few influenza A samples that were subtyped, 22.2% were H3N2 and 75% were 2009 H1N1.
Deaths from pneumonia and flu were at 5.6%, above the seasonal baseline but below epidemic threshold.
Oct 19 CDC FluView report
Oct 19 CDC situation update