Flu season starts to taper off

April 10, 2020

The flu season appears to be tapering off, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The season has been a particularly harsh one for pediatric patients.

The challenge of determining if a child’s symptoms are COVID-19, the flu, or seasonal allergies could be getting easier as the flu season begins to taper off, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1

Estimates for this season included 39 million cases of influenza illness, 400,000 hospitalizations from the disease, and 24,000 deaths. The season also has been a particularly harsh one for children with 162 deaths so far. This is the highest recorded number at this point in every season since reporting began in the 2004-2005 season, with the exception of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. The cumulative hospitalization rate for children aged 0 to 4 years is 93.9 per 100,000 population and in children aged 5 to 17 years it’s 24.6 per 100,000 population.

In the most current week in the report, influenza-like illness ILI) accounted for 5.4% of patient visits reported by the US Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet), which is above the national baseline of 2.4%. Influenza-like illness activity remains high in 28 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, and Puerto Rico. Many states in the Midwest, some in the West, and some in New England had moderate to minimal activity. Alaska and Hawaii had minimal activity as well.

Influenza activity is:

·      Widespread in Puerto Rico, Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

·      Regional in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

·      Local in the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

·      Sporadic in the US Virgin Islands and California, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

·      Guam didn’t report activity.

The report noted that the current COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people are seeking health care and that social distancing practices are changing the number of people with ILI as well as the reasons for seeking out care. The number of influenza and pneumonia deaths are above epidemic thresholds, but this is due to an increase in pneumonia cases, which may be attributed to COVID-19.

References:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (FluView). Key updates for Week 13, ending March 28, 2020. CDC website. Updated March 28, 2020. Accessed April 9, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm