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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 5: January 31- February 6, 2016
State influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) activity:
• Florida reported ‘regional’ activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in week 5, this is up from ‘local’ activity reported in week 4.
• While influenza activity has been low, the flu season is now underway. There has been an increase in reported outbreaks and a notable increase in emergency department (ED) and urgent care center (UCC) ILI visits in the East and South East regions of Florida, particularly in the 0 to 9 year age group.
• Influenza activity in Florida often peaks in late January and February; current activity levels are consistent with those historic trends.
• The preliminary estimated number of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza is similar to levels seen in previous seasons at this time.
• In week 5, 11 counties reported ‘moderate’ activity. This is up from four counties in week 4.
• Forty counties reported ‘increasing’ activity in week 5.
• No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in week 5.
• Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported so far this season. While rare, Florida receives reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths each season.
• In week 5, one outbreak of influenza A (H3) was reported in an Orange County long term care facility.
• In recent weeks, influenza A 2009 (H1N1) has been the most commonly identified influenza subtype by the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (BPHL).
National influenza activity:
• Influenza activity has increased nationally.
• CDC has received increased reports of hospitalizations and other severe outcomes from influenza infection. Individuals at high risk of complications from influenza infection with suspected influenza should be treated with antivirals as early as possible, even prior to laboratory confirmation.
• Influenza A 2009 (H1N1) is the predominately circulating strain.
• The vast majority of circulating flu viruses analyzed this season remain similar to the vaccine virus components for this season's flu vaccines. If you have not yet been vaccinated this season, get vaccinated now.
• 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.