Flu levels in the United States remained elevated last week, with widespread activity reported in most of the country, though some markers showed small declines, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its latest update.
Three more pediatric flu deaths were reported, and with flu activity expected to remain high for a number of weeks, the CDC said anyone age 6 months or older who hasn't been vaccinated this season should be vaccinated now.
Influenza A viruses have been dominant so far this season, with 2009 H1N1 most commonly reported in most of the country, except for the southeast, where H3N2 is the main strain.
Clinic visits down
Nationally, the percentage of clinic visits for flulike illness declined from 3.5% to 3.1% last week but is still above the national baseline of 2.2%. At the state level, flulike activity, another measure of clinic visits, was classified as high in nine states: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
Widespread geographic activity was reported by Guam and 30 states, the same as the previous week.
One flu marker that rose was rate of flu hospitalizations, which rose from 9.1 to 12.4 per 100,000 population last week. The rate is highest in adults age 65 and older, with that number at 31.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 populations, followed by children ages 0 to 4 and adults ages 50 to 64.
Deaths in kids rise to 19
Of the three new pediatric flu deaths reported to the CDC, two were linked to 2009 H1N1 and occurred in late December and the first part of January. The other was caused by an unsubtyped influenza A and involved a child who died at the end of December.
So far, 19 pediatric flu deaths have been reported to the CDC.
Overall deaths from pneumonia and flu, an indicator that typically lags the CDC's other flu markers, were at 6.9%, above the seasonal baseline but just below the epidemic threshold of 7.0%.
Jan 18 CDC weekly FluView report
Jan 18 CDC situation update