US flu activity continues to taper
US influenza activity continued its season-ending decline, with one flu-related pediatric death reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its weekly update.
The percentage of US respiratory specimens that tested positive for flu dropped from 8.7% to 6.5% last week. The percentage of clinic visits for flu fell stayed even at 1.3%, well below the national baseline of 2.2%.
The percentage of overall deaths due to pneumonia and flu ticked up a bit, from 5.8% to 5.9%, but is still well below the epidemic threshold of 6.7%.
The CDC reported one pediatric flu death, bringing the season's total to 96. The death was related to the 2009 H1N1 virus and occurred in the first week of March. Last year's total reached 171, with only 35 the season before that.
Influenza B continued as the dominant strain late in the season, which is typical. It accounted for 667 of 1,122 viruses isolated, or 59%, the same percentage as the previous week's.
May 30 CDC FluView report
Needle-free flu vaccine produces 'non-inferior' immune response
A needle-free jet injector vaccine delivery system produced an immune response comparable to that of a flu shot, according to a study today in The Lancet by industry and other researchers.
The investigators randomly assigned 627 volunteers aged 18 to 64 in the University of Colorado health system to receive bioCSL's Afluria influenza vaccine via jet injector and 623 to receive the intramuscular version. The jet injector technology was developed by PharmaJet of Golden, Colo.
Study participants' immune response to Afluria when given by jet injector met criteria for non-inferiority for all six co-primary end points, the authors reported. They added, "The device had a clinically acceptable safety profile, but was associated with a higher frequency of local injection site reactions than was the use of needle and syringe."
May 30 Lancet abstract