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Influenza

Contact the Florida Department of Health


Week 7: February 11-17, 2018

2017 Week 50 Flu Review Maps

State influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) activity:

• In week 7, influenza activity decreased for the second consecutive week. Despite these declines, influenza activity remains higher than peak levels observed in past flu seasons.

• People at high-risk for complications from influenza infection, such as children, adults aged 65 years and older, and pregnant women continued to be most impacted.

No new influenza-associated pediatric deaths were confirmed. Six influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been confirmed so far in the 2017-18 influenza season.

• Overall, deaths due to pneumonia and influenza were higher than expected. Increases in deaths due to pneumonia and influenza are also expected over the coming weeks given the amount of widespread illness in the preceding weeks. Most pneumonia and influenza deaths continued to occur in people aged 65 years and older; of the deaths in people aged 64 years and younger, most occurred in people with underlying health conditions (68%).

• Thirty-one outbreaks of influenza or ILI were reported: 19 with laboratory confirmation of influenza and 12 ILI. As of week 7 (ending February 17, 2018), 420 outbreaks of influenza and ILI have been reported since the start of the 2017-18 season.

• The Florida Department of Health is conducting enhanced surveillance of intensive-care unit (ICU) patients aged <65 with laboratory-confirmed influenza. In week 7, 69 cases were reported, bringing the total number of cases reported up to 201 since February 1, 2018. The majority of these cases occurred in unvaccinated people with underlying health conditions.

Immunizations and prevention:

• The Florida Department of Health recommends that sick people stay home until fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and that all people use good handwashing practices.

• On February 15, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a preliminary interim vaccine efficacy estimate of 36%. Of note, CDC estimated vaccine efficacy against influenza A (H3N2) viruses among children aged 6 months-8 years to be 51%.

• People who have not been vaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible. Flu vaccines are safe and are the best way to prevent influenza infection and serious influenza complications. CDC recommends vaccination as long as influenza viruses are circulating. To find a flu shot near you, visit: www.floridahealth.gov/findaflushot. Flu vaccines are also available at your local county health department.

Treatment:

• In severe seasons like this one, the use of antivirals is especially important. There is no shortage of antivirals, however, some supply chain issues have been reported.

• CDC recommends the use of antiviral treatment as soon as possible for all hospitalized, severely ill, and people who are at higher risk for complications with suspect influenza: children <2 years old, adults ≥65 years old, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions. Administer treatment within 48 hours of illness onset (but treatment administered after this period can still be beneficial). A recent CDC health advisory stresses the importance of rapid and early antiviral treatment this season. Visit: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/influenza/_documents/cdc-han-influenza-12-27-2017.pdf.

• Clinicians should not wait for laboratory confirmation to administer antivirals to people with suspect influenza.

National influenza activity:

• Influenza activity decreased, but remained well above the national baseline.

• As in Florida, influenza A (H3) has been the most common strain of influenza identified, however, influenza B activity has increased in recent weeks.

Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of flu viruses. The "flu" is a common catch-all term used for a variety of illnesses, but it correctly applies only to the upper respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus. To locate a flu shot near you, contact your physician, your local county health department, or use the Florida Department of Health's flu shot locator.

Estimates are that between 15% and 40% of the population will develop illness from influenza every year. An average of about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza, and 114,000 per year have to be admitted to the hospital as a result of influenza infection. Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age. People age 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, and very young children are more likely to get complications from influenza.

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