Atlanta—Healthcare professionals shouldn’t get too complacent about this year’s influenza season, even though it has been relatively mild thus far, a new CDC report suggests.
According to the latest Fluview report, flu activity remains low across most of the country with only slight increases. While influenza A H3N2 viruses were most common early in the season, however, H1N1 viruses are now predominant.
That is the same H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic, warned public health officials. They noted that seasonal flu vaccines have included the H1N1 pandemic virus since 2010, providing protection for those who are vaccinated. The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months of age and older who hasn’t been vaccinated against the flu do so as quickly as possible.
As of late January, the proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.2%, which is above the national baseline of 2.1%. Six of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels.
As with most influenza seasons, the highest hospitalization rates were among patients 65 and older, followed by children younger than 5 years. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza, however, was slightly below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Surveillance System and the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System.
Influenza A viruses were the most frequently identified influenza virus type reported by public health laboratories during the week ending January 23, with influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 viruses making up about three-quarters of those.
As of late last month, the geographic spread of influenza in four states was reported as widespread with Puerto Rico and 14 states reporting regional activity; Guam and 12 states reporting local activity; and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 20 states reporting sporadic activity.
So far, about 145.8 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccine doses have been distributed in the United States by influenza vaccine manufacturers and selected distributors, according to the CDC. For the 2015-16 flu season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 171 to 179 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.
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