Influenza Season Update: May Be Worse Than Any Since 2009 Pandemic

January 26, 2018 Karie Youngdahl

US map of influenza spread
ILI activity level indicator, week 3, 2017-18 season. CDC

Since my blog post last week about this influenza season, which noted that the season appeared to be more severe than normal but similar to the 2014-15 season, the situation has gotten worse. This season may be worse than any season since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI), one of the main barometers of how widespread influenza is, has continued to increase for the week ending January 20. In fact, the percentage has surpassed that of any week of the 2014-15 season, and it still may not have peaked. ILI is now responsible for 6.6% of all outpatient visits. Influenza is widespread in 49 states and Puerto Rico. CDC's current influenza surveillance report is available here.

The Wall Street Journal reports that schools have closed due to influenza in 11 states. 37 pediatric deaths have been reported this season.

Though we may be midway through the influenza season, the CDC recommends flu vaccination "even if you've already been sick, and early antiviral treatment for people who are very ill OR those who have flu and are at high risk of complications. "   

Public health officials hope that next week's numbers, which will be available February 2 for the week ending January 27, will show that peak influenza activity has passed.

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