Flu still on the rise, hospitalizations high, CDC says

The current flu season is "still on the rise," the acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Preventi...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 10:41 PM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 10:41 PM

The current flu season is "still on the rise," the acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

"We may be on track to break some recent records," added Dr. Anne Schuchat while updating reporters on the latest data.

NEW: CDC acting director: "We may be on track to break some recent records"

The nation's hospitalization rate climbed to about 60 people per every 100,000

10 additional pediatric deaths recorded for the week, bringing the total to 63

Flu-related hospitalizations rose to about 60 people out of every 100,000 in the fifth week of 2018, the CDC said Friday in its weekly surveillance report.

That's higher than last week, when the rate was 51 per every 100,000, and also higher than during the fifth week of the 2014-15 season, which recorded about 44 people hospitalized per 100,000. The CDC considers the 2014-15 season "moderately severe" with high levels of illness, hospitalizations and deaths compared to previous seasons and has used it as a comparison to the current season.

Hospitalizations among the 55- to 64-year-old age group and higher levels of influenza-like illness are where the records will be, Schuchat noted.

"We don't have signs of hospitalizations leveling off yet," said Schuchat, adding that during a past severe season that looked similar to this one, an estimated "34 million Americans got sick with the flu."

In addition, 10 more flu-related deaths were reported in children as of the week ending February 3, bringing the total number of children who have died of flu-related causes to 63 for the season, which began in October.

'More weeks to go'

Though the Northern border near Canada and a little bit along the West Coast show some signs of easing, there are "likely many more weeks to go," CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

Caused by viruses, flu is a contagious respiratory illness with mild to severe symptoms that can sometimes lead to death. Circulating flu strains this season are a mix of H3N2, H1N1 and B viruses. Nordlund said. Anytime H3N2 strains are dominant, as they are now, "we tend to see more severe disease more hospitalizations, more deaths."

"There might be a second wave of influenza B infections," she said. "It's a little too early to say we're out of the woods or to say that flu is abating."

"It's not uncommon for B strains to increase later in the season," Schuchat said. During an intense season like this one it is possible to get an infection with both A strain viruses and B strain viruses at the same time and people definitely get sick twice from the flu, with first one strain than another, she said.

According to the report, influenza activity was widespread in 48 states and Puerto Rico for the week ending February 3, the same as last week. Oregon and Hawaii, the exceptions, both recorded regional activity for the fifth week of the year.

The CDC also recorded a rise in the percentage of patients who visited health care providers complaining of influenza-like illness across the nation: 7.7% of patients for the week ending February 3, up from an estimated 7.1% during the previous week.

Levels of illness, based on outpatient visits and visits to emergency rooms, are "now as high as we observed at the peak of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic season," said Schuchat.

While the current rates do not mean we're having a pandemic, she said, this is "a signal of how very intense this season has been."

Overall, the data showed 14,094 new laboratory-confirmed cases of illness during the week ending February 3, bringing the season total to 151,983. These numbers do not include all the people who have had the flu, as many do not see a doctor when sick.

Among adults, the proportion of pneumonia- and influenza-related deaths climbed to 10.1% of all deaths reported during the week ending January 20 (these data are always two weeks delayed). This rate is higher than the anticipated 7.3% pneumonia- or flu-related deaths estimated for the week.

It would make sense to see "a lot" of influenza deaths in the coming weeks, said Schuchat based on the fact that many people are currently in the hospital. We need to "keep being vigilant," she said.

It's still "worthwhile" for unvaccinated people to get a flu shot Schuchat said.

Even though the flu vaccine has low effectiveness against H3N2 viruses, it is more effective against other flu viruses, Schuchat said. Based on a recent Canadian report, the effectiveness against B strain viruses is estimated to be about 55%. The vaccine may also reduce the severity of symptoms if you catch the flu despite getting vaccinated.

The supply of the antiviral drugs used to treat patients with the flu exceeds the demand, although prescriptions are higher than in previous years, said Schuchat. The CDC is working with pharmacies, drug producers, and others to better distribute the medicines and alleviate spot shortages.

She recommended calling ahead to pharmacies to make sure a prescription can be filled.

"The commercial supply is there," she said so dipping into the strategic national stockpile is not necessary.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97638

Reported Deaths: 2067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27372932
Ramsey11088322
Dakota7635126
Anoka6238137
Stearns407724
Washington388355
Scott262533
Olmsted251928
Nobles197716
Blue Earth17266
Wright16957
St. Louis165941
Carver14377
Clay141741
Rice13438
Mower13425
Sherburne116914
Kandiyohi10552
Winona91318
Lyon7224
Waseca6898
Benton5603
Crow Wing55518
Steele5552
Freeborn5464
Nicollet54517
Watonwan5304
Chisago5131
Todd5042
McLeod5012
Le Sueur4744
Otter Tail4624
Beltrami4505
Martin43010
Goodhue3829
Itasca34715
Pine3430
Douglas3372
Polk3224
Isanti3151
Becker2812
Carlton2761
Morrison2682
Dodge2570
Pipestone23210
Cottonwood2280
Chippewa2231
Meeker2132
Wabasha2020
Sibley1993
Brown1962
Yellow Medicine1902
Cass1844
Redwood1773
Rock1760
Murray1722
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Renville1578
Unassigned15452
Jackson1491
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
Houston1280
Kanabec1278
Roseau1250
Koochiching1233
Pennington1201
Hubbard1171
Lincoln1160
Stevens1041
Pope990
Aitkin831
Big Stone830
Wadena720
Wilkin703
Lac qui Parle651
Grant634
Lake600
Norman540
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater280
Lake of the Woods231
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 86860

Reported Deaths: 1315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16010262
Woodbury555467
Johnson517027
Black Hawk450990
Linn4101113
Story346217
Dubuque333241
Scott304528
Dallas280738
Pottawattamie215939
Buena Vista199912
Marshall179134
Sioux16803
Wapello134057
Webster128014
Plymouth116121
Clinton113021
Muscatine112155
Crawford11005
Cerro Gordo105921
Warren9666
Jasper86432
Des Moines8008
Marion7697
Henry7554
Tama73932
Carroll6855
Lee6437
Wright5961
Dickinson5306
Boone5178
Bremer5027
Washington47211
Louisa43115
Delaware4233
Mahaska41519
Floyd3543
Jackson3523
Franklin35118
Lyon3514
Winneshiek3406
Clay3344
Hamilton3323
Benton3281
Winnebago31713
Hardin3071
Poweshiek3078
Buchanan2861
Jones2843
Kossuth2800
Butler2752
Emmet27010
Clarke2683
Shelby2681
Allamakee2666
Chickasaw2661
Sac2650
Clayton2633
Cherokee2552
Cedar2521
Guthrie2527
Harrison2523
Fayette2312
Madison2272
Grundy2243
Iowa2161
Palo Alto2050
Hancock1952
Howard1927
Humboldt1913
Mitchell1910
Calhoun1873
Mills1831
Page1710
Cass1692
Osceola1690
Pocahontas1652
Monona1601
Monroe16011
Lucas1566
Appanoose1423
Jefferson1391
Union1383
Taylor1321
Davis1274
Ida1261
Fremont1210
Van Buren1151
Keokuk1141
Worth1090
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Montgomery975
Audubon871
Wayne872
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