US flu activity inches upward
For the third week in a row, US influenza activity increased slightly, with H3N2 still the dominant strain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today.
The percentage of clinic visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) rose from 1.6% to 1.9%, according to the CDC update, which covers the week through Nov 28. That level is still below the national baseline of 2.1%, but several regions reported elevated outpatient ILI levels.
Puerto Rico, Oklahoma, and South Carolina reported moderate ILI levels, up from one state a week ago. Four states reported low activity, and the rest logged minimal activity. Flu was reported as widespread in Guam, regional in Puerto Rico, and local in seven states, up from five the week before.
Deaths for pneumonia and influenza (P&I) are tracked by the CDC in two ways: through the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System and the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System. Based on NCHS data, P&I deaths accounted for 5.9% of all deaths, well below the 6.8% epidemic threshold for this time of year. Using cities data, P&I deaths accounted for 6.1% of all deaths, below the epidemic threshold of 6.5%.
No pediatric deaths were reported last week.
Among specimens from public health labs that test positive for flu this season, 82.4% have been influenza A and 17.6% influenza B. Of the 333 "A" viruses subtyped, 262 (78.7%) were H3N2. That strain is typically associated with more severe flu seasons.
Dec 4 CDC FluView report
H5N8 detected in 3 flocks totaling 70,000 ducks in South Korea
South Korean officials reported three new H5N8 avian flu outbreaks affecting more than 70,000 ducks, according to a report filed today with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The outbreaks are all near each other in South Jeolla province on the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula, and all involve ducks being raised for meat. They began on 3 consecutive days starting Nov 11, but the report does not specify whether the events are linked.
The farms hold duck flocks ranging from 21,705 to 24,237 birds. All told, 70,023 birds had to be destroyed after the highly pathogenic virus was detected in the flocks. Control measures have been implemented, officials said.
Dec 4 OIE report