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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.
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.
For the most current information about influenza in Florida, please see Florida's Weekly Surveillance Report, the Florida Flu Review. Below is a summary of the current flu review.
Summary - Week 45: November 8-14, 2015
State influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) activity:
• Florida reported sporadic activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in week 45.
• Influenza activity has remained relatively stable in recent weeks. While activity has remained low, these early season low activity levels are not uncommon and are not predictive of an overall mild influenza season.
• Of concern, seasons where influenza A (H3) circulates predominantly are generally more severe, particularly in children <5 and adults ≥ 65 years old.
• Statewide emergency department (ED) and urgent care center (UCC) ILI visits have remained stable in all age groups (for the last five weeks).
• The preliminary estimated number of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza is similar to levels seen in previous years at this time.
• All Florida counties reported mild or no influenza activity in week 45.
• No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in week 45 and none have been reported so far during the 2015-16 influenza season.
• One outbreak of rhinovirus was reported in an assisted living facility in Pasco County in week 45.
• The proportion of specimens testing positive for influenza at the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (BPHL) has remained low in recent weeks but is expected to increase as the 2015-16 influenza season progresses.
• Influenza A (H3) is the most commonly circulating virus identified by BPHL so far in the 2015-16 season.
National influenza activity:
• Influenza activity levels remain low nationally but are increasing.
• The predominantly circulating strain identified nationally so far this season is influenza A (H3). Other strains of influenza are also circulating, but at lower levels.
• The CDC recommends vaccination as long as influenza viruses are circulating.
• To learn more please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/
• Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 viruses have been identified in U.S. backyard and commercial flocks of birds during the spring and summer of 2015. HPAI H5 has not been identified in Florida birds, but identifications are anticipated. No human HPAI infections have been identified in Florida or the rest of the nation.
To learn more about HPAI, please visit the Florida Department of Health's Novel Influenza Virus website.