National flu activity decreased for the second consecutive week, but pediatric mortality is heading in the opposite direction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Influenza-like illness (ILI) represented 5.5% of all visits to outpatient health care providers during the week ending Feb. 22, compared with 6.1% the previous week, the CDC’s influenza division. The ILI visit rate had reached 6.6% in early February after dropping to 5.0% in mid-January, following a rise to a season-high 7.1% in the last week of December.
Another measure of ILI activity, the percentage of laboratory specimens testing positive, also declined for the second week in a row. The rate was 26.4% for the week ending Feb. 22, which is down from the season high of 30.3% reached 2 weeks before, the influenza division said.
ILI-related deaths among children, however, are not dropping.The total for 2019-2020 is now up to 125, and that “number is higher for the same time period than in every season since reporting began in 2004-05, except for the 2009 pandemic,” the CDC noted.
Hospitalization rates, which have been fairly typical in the general population, also are elevated for young adults and school-aged children, the agency said, and “rates among children 0-4 years old are now the highest CDC has on record at this point in the season, surpassing rates reported during the second wave of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.”