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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 - Weeks 31-32: July 30-August 12, 2017

State influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI)¹ activity²:

• Influenza and ILI activity in Florida remained low, which is typical for this time of year. Influenza activity is expected to increase over the coming weeks as we head into the fall months.

• In weeks 31-32, three outbreaks were reported, two outbreaks of influenza B and one outbreak of influenza A; 166 outbreaks have been reported since the start of the 2016-17 influenza season.

• In week 31, the preliminary estimated number of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza decreased and was similar to levels observed in previous seasons at this time.

In weeks 31-32, no influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. Ten influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported since the start of the 2016-17 influenza season. Annual vaccination remains the best way to protect children against influenza.

In weeks 31-32, 25 (39.1%) of the 64 specimens submitted to the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (BPHL) for influenza testing were positive by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for influenza: 21 influenza A (H3), two influenza B Yamagata lineage, one influenza A 2009 (H1N1), and one influenza B Victoria lineage.

National influenza activity:

• Influenza viruses continue to circulate at low levels nationally.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified an antigenically drifted influenza B Victoria lineage strain circulating nationally and in Florida that is different from the strain of influenza B Victoria lineage contained in the current 2016-17 influenza vaccination formulations. This drifted strain is also different from the strain of influenza B Victoria lineage recommended for inclusion in the 2017-18 influenza vaccination formulations.

• In the spring of 2017, avian influenza A (H7N9) was identified in chickens in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky; avian influenza A (H7) was identified in chickens in Georgia; and avian influenza A (H5N2) was identified in turkeys in Wisconsin.

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