In its latest update on the influenza virus in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the number of people seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms was the highest percentage since the 2009 pandemic from the disease.
For the week ending January 27, the proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 7.1%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2% and is the highest ILI percentage recorded since the 2009 pandemic. All 10 regions reported a proportion of outpatient visits for ILI at or above their region-specific baseline levels. ILI has been at or above the national baseline for 10 weeks so far this season. Over the past five seasons, ILI has remained at or above baseline for 16 weeks on average.
The summary also states:
All U.S. states but Hawaii and Oregon continue to report widespread flu activity and the number of states experiencing high influenza-like illness (ILI) activity increased from 39 states plus New York City and Puerto Rico to 42 states plus New York City and the District of Columbia. At 7.1 percent, influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity is approaching the 7.7 peak of the 2009 pandemic. The overall hospitalization rate is higher than the overall hospitalization rate reported during the same week of the 2014-2015 season; the most severe season in recent years.
The CDC’s summary also reports that 17 children have died from the flu in this latest reporting period, but noted that one fatality took place in the 2015-16 reporting period. This brings the total pediatric deaths for this season to 53.
Some of the other statistics provided by the CDC include:
- Widespread influenza activity was reported in Puerto Rico and 48 states, with “three states, experienced minimal [influenza-like-illness] activity” — Maine, Montana, and Utah.
- Since October 1, 2017, 14,676 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported through the Influenza Hospitalization Network.
- The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza sharply increased to 9.7% for the week ending Jan. 13, 2018.