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February 25, 2014

2013/2014 Flu Update #6

Update #6 for February 25, 2014

A long, slow march into the sunset 

This weeks Mitigation Journal Flu Update includes publicly available data from the CDC FluView, Google Flu Trends and other media sources.

This report contains data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2013/2014 Influenza season for week #7 for the period ending February 15, 2014.

In the News

CDC: Flu Vaccine 61% Effective
The CDC issued a report on February 20, 2014 claiming the current influenza vaccine to be sixty-one percent effective so far this season. The report notes those vaccinated have a lowered need to be seen by their doctor. CDC also notes that the 2014 influenza season has been, as in years past, particularly difficult for some age groups. We typically focus on extremes of age and those with comorbid conditions as being at risk for influenza related illness (ILI) or death. The trend over several years indicates hospitalizations and deaths attributed to ILI is growing in the "young and middle-age populations. The vaccination rate for these age groups has been estimated at 34%.

California Influenza ICU Admissions and Deaths
California is reporting the highest number of severe and fatal cases of seasonal influenza since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, according to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The report states that there have been 94 deaths and 311 ICU admissions due to flu from September, 2013 to January, 2014.

WHO: No Changes to Vaccine for 2014-2015 Flu Season
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in a press release that it is keeping essentially the same vaccine profile for next year. The current vaccine is touted by CDC as being 61% effective and will keep the same influenza virus strains for next season. These strains include  - A/California/7/2009 (H1H1) pdm09, A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2), and B/Massachusetts/2/2012 in the trivalent vaccine. 

Social Media

 Flu by the CDC numbers

According to the CDC Flu View site:
During week 7 (February 9-15, 2014), influenza activity decreased, but remained elevated in the United States.
  • Viral Surveillance: Of 6,887 specimens tested and reported during week 7 by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories, 958 (13.9%) were positive for influenza.
  • Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality: The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.
  • Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths: Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • Influenza-associated Hospitalizations: A season-cumulative rate of 26.1 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • Outpatient Illness Surveillance: The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.5%, above the national baseline of 2.0%. Nine of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Seven states experienced moderate ILI activity; 16 states and New York City experienced low ILI activity; 27 states experienced minimal ILI activity, and the District of Columbia had insufficient data.
  • Geographic Spread of Influenza: The geographic spread of influenza in 17 states was reported as widespread; 22 states reported regional influenza activity; the District of Columbia, Guam, and nine states reported local influenza activity; Puerto Rico and two states reported sporadic influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported no influenza activity.

Timeline Comparison

Below are CDC FluView maps that compare ILI Activity between corresponding weeks of 2012/2013 influenza season against the 2013/2014 season. The 2014 week 4 CDC map demonstrates considerably lower level of activity as compared to 2012/2013 map at this time.

2013/2014 CDC Flu Interactive Map for week 7, 2014

2012/2013 CDC Flu Interactive Map for week 7, 2013

Google Flu Trends

Google Flu Trends remains a trusted source for ILI activity and comparison data. According to Google Flu Trends ILI activity has progressed from moderate to high  overall with plateaus noted in other areas.

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