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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Influenza

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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.

Summary - Week 1: December 31, 2017-January 6, 2018

2017 Week 50 Flu Review Maps

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

• Flu season is well underway with steady and sharp increases in activity over the past several weeks. In the first week of January (week 1):

• Flu activity levels remained high statewide and increases were observed in the northern regions of the state (see page 9). Statewide activity remains above peak levels observed during the previous two flu seasons.

One influenza-associated pediatric death was reported in an unvaccinated child with underlying health conditions. Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported so far this season in Florida. Children, especially those with underlying health conditions, are at high risk for severe complications from influenza infection.

• Visits to emergency departments among adults aged ≥65 years continued to increase and remained well above peak activity observed during the previous two flu seasons. Adults in this age group are also at high risk for severe complications from influenza infection.

• Nine outbreaks were reported: eight influenza and one ILI; 73 outbreaks of influenza and ILI have been reported since the start of the 2017-18 season. More outbreaks have been reported so far this season than in previous seasons at this time, which may be an indication of a more severe influenza season.

National influenza activity:

• Influenza activity continued to increase sharply and was well above the national baseline. The majority of states are experiencing high levels of ILI activity. Several national indicators are similar to those observed during the peak of the 2014-15 season, which was the most severe season in recent years.

As in Florida, influenza A (H3) has been the most common influenza subtype reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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 exercise good handwashing practices.

• Get your flu shot now. Flu vaccines can vary in effectiveness from season to season but they continue to be the best way to prevent influenza infection and serious influenza complications. 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: www.floridahealth.gov/findaflushot.

Treatment:

• CDC recommends the use of antiviral treatment as soon as possible for all persons with suspected influenza for all hospitalized, severely ill, and people who are at higher risk for complications: children <2 years, adults ≥65 years old, and pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions; treatment should be administered within 48 hours of illness onset (but treatment administered after this period can still be beneficial), although, unfortunately, there is often a delay in administering antiviral treatment. A recent CDC health advisory stresses the importance of rapid and early antiviral treatment this season. For more information, visit: https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00409.asp.

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

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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