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 - Weeks 31-32: July 31-August 13, 2016
State influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) activity:
• Influenza and ILI activity remain low in Florida, which is typical for this time in the influenza season.
• No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in weeks 31-32.
• Eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported since the start of the 2015-2016 influenza season. While rare, Florida receives reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths each season. Annual vaccination remains the best way to protect children against influenza.
• In weeks 31 and 32, one of the 14 (7%) specimens submitted to the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (BPHL2) for influenza testing was PCR positive for influenza: one influenza A not yet subtyped.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) activity:
• Eight cases of EV-D68 have now been identified in Florida since February 2016. In the last two weeks, final laboratory confirmation was completed for four specimens submitted for testing at BPHL between week 15 (beginning on April 10, 2016) and week 18 (ending on May 7, 2016). These eight cases were identified in different regions of the state and represent the full spectrum of disease. These represent the first identifications of EV-D68 in the United States since the fall of 2014.
• To learn more about EV-D68, please visit: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/d68.
National influenza activity:
• Influenza viruses continue to circulate at low levels nationally.
• In week 31, four human infections with influenza A (H3N2v) were reported in Ohio and Michigan. All four individuals reported direct contact with swine in fair settings in the week preceding illness onset.
• These are the first human infections with influenza A (H3N2v) reported in the United States in 2016. The vast majority of human infections with variant influenza viruses do not result in person-to-person spread of disease.
• The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted in favor of an interim recommendation that the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) should not be used during the 2016-2017 influenza season. This recommendation follows data indicating poor or relatively lower effectiveness of LAIV between 2013 and 2016. ACIP continues to recommend annual influenza vaccination with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) for everyone aged six months and older.
• While highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 virus identification in birds are expected later this year, that risk is lower in the summer months. Influenza (HPAI) H5 has not been identified in Florida birds yet, but identifications are anticipated. No human HPAI infections have been identified in Florida or other states. To learn more about HPAI, please visit: www.floridahealth.gov/novelflu.