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Weeks 29-30: July 15-28, 2018

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

• Influenza continues to circulate at low levels across the state. This low level of circulation can cause sporadic outbreaks.

• Two new outbreaks were reported over the last two weeks (29-30); 510 outbreaks of influenza and ILI have been reported since October 2017. Specimen collection for outbreaks reported throughout the summer is critical, as these outbreaks can serve as an early indicator for what is to come in the next influenza season.

• In weeks 29-30, the percent of emergency department (ED) and urgent care center (UCC) visits for ILI remained the same and was similar to levels observed at this time in previous years.

• In week 29, the preliminary estimated number of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza decreased and was below levels observed in previous seasons at this time.

No new influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in weeks 29-30. Eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been confirmed since the start of the 2017-18 influenza season. Annual vaccination remains the best way to protect children against influenza.

• In weeks 29-30, five (24%) of the 21 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: three influenza A 2009 (H1N1), one influenza A unspecified, and one influenza B Yamagata lineage.

• In recent weeks, the majority of influenza viruses identified at BPHL have been influenza A 2009 (H1N1) or influenza B Yamagata lineage viruses, but the total number of specimens testing positive for influenza at BPHL remained low.

National influenza activity:

• Influenza viruses continue to circulate at low levels nationally.

• Consistent with trends observed in Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has observed the cocirculation of influenza A 2009 (H1N1) and influenza B Yamagata viruses in recent weeks. The total number of influenzapositive specimens reported to CDC by public health laboratories nationwide remained low.

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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