Influenza Update: 23,000 U.S. Deaths, More Children, 18-49 Year Olds Hospitalized than During 2009 H1N1 Pandemic

MIAMI - OCTOBER 19: Daniela Diaz,11, receives a H1N1 nasal flu spray vaccine from nurse Sh
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending March 14, with the total deaths this season at 23,000 and the highest number of children and people age 18-49 requiring hospitalization since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

“Hospitalization rates for school-aged children (5-17 years) are higher than any recent regular season but remain lower than rates experienced by this age group during the pandemic,” the report said.

Five influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2019-20 season were reported this week. The total pediatric deaths for the season is 149.

The report noted that the coronavirus outbreak unfolding in the United States could affect “healthcare seeking behavior which in turn would impact data” from the Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network or ILINet.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Pneumonia and influenza mortality levels have been low, but 149 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported so far this season. This number is higher than recorded at the same time in every season since reporting began in 2004-05, except for the 2009 pandemic.
  • CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 38 million flu illnesses, 390,000 hospitalizations and 23,000 deaths from flu.
  • Nationally, the percent of specimens testing positive for influenza at clinical laboratories continued to decrease while ILI activity increased for the second week in a row after declining for three weeks. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more people may be seeking care for respiratory illness than usual at this time.
  • Nationally, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses are now the most commonly reported influenza viruses this season. Previously, influenza B/Victoria viruses predominated nationally.
  • A total of 556 additional viruses (211 A(H1N1)pdm09, 32 A(H3N2), and 313 B) collected in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin were analyzed for resistance to neuraminidase inhibitors by pyrosequencing assay.

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