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 35-36: August 28 - September 10, 2016
State influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) activity:
• Influenza and ILI activity have increased slightly in Florida. We see these increases every year, at the beginning of the school year.
• No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in weeks 35-36.
• 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 35 and 36, 13 of the 42 (31%) specimens submitted to the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (BPHL) for influenza testing were PCR positive for influenza: two influenza A 2009 (H1N1), one influenza A (H3), and six influenza B Yamagata lineage.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) activity:
• Eight cases of EV-D68 have now been identified in Florida since February 2016. These eight cases were identified in different regions of the state and represent the full spectrum of disease. These are 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.
• On August 25, 2016, the 2016-2017 influenza vaccine recommendations were published in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. To learn more, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6505a1.htm?s_cid=rr6505a1_w.
• For the 2016-2017 season, CDC recommends use of inactivated influenza vaccines (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccines (RIV). Live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) should not be used during the 2016-2017 season. This recommendation follows poor or relatively lower effectiveness of LAIV between 2013 and 2016.
• While highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 virus identification in birds are expected later this year, that risk is lower in the summer months. 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.