The flu-related deaths of 22 more children were reported during the week ending February 10, federal officials say, bringing the pediatric toll to 84 for this grim flu season. Nearly 20,000 people have been hospitalized so far, with weeks to go.
Several of the childhood deaths occurred weeks earlier but were only recently reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All but five of the newly reported cases were associated with influenza A.
The overall hospitalization rate reached 67.9 per 100,000 population during the week, up significantly from the 59.9 per 100,000 reported a week earlier. The rate was highest among adults 65 years of age and older (294.9 per 100,000), followed by adults ages 50–64 (72.8 per 100,000) and children 4 years of age or younger (47.1 per 100,000). In the past decade, the highest previous rate at the end of a season was 64.2 per 100,000 in the 2014–2015 season.
A total of 19,398 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported between October 1, 2017, and February 10, 2018.
The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was 9.8% during the week ending January 27, similar to earlier reports. The CDC expects this percentage to rise as manually coded records filter in to the agency.
The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 7.5%, a marginal dip from 7.7% the prior week. ILI activity was high in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico; moderate in North Dakota and Utah; low in Hawaii, Idaho, and Washington; and minimal in Maine and Montana.
Influenza was reported as widespread in 48 states and Puerto Rico. Oregon reported only regional flu activity, while the District of Columbia and Hawaii reported local activity.
The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during the week was the influenza A H3N2 variant, but B viruses appeared to be on the rise, accounting for one-third of new cases.
Source: CDC; February 16, 2018.