News from the FDA/CDC

2019-2020 flu season ends with ‘very high’ activity in New Jersey


The 2019-2020 flu season is ending, but not without a revised map to reflect the COVID-induced new world order.

Influenza-like illness activity level, week ending April 11, 2020

To account for pandemic-related changes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added three new “very high” levels to the scale of its map of influenza-like illness (ILI) activity, which previously ranged from 1-10.

For the week ending April 11, those additions encompass only New Jersey at level 13 and New York City at level 12, the CDC reported April 17.

Eight states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, were in the “high” range of flu activity, which runs from level 8 to level 10, for the same week. Those eight states included Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

The CDC’s influenza division included this note with its latest FluView report: “The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting healthcare seeking behavior. The number of persons and their reasons for seeking care in the outpatient and ED settings is changing. These changes impact data from ILINet [Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network] in ways that are difficult to differentiate from changes in illness levels, therefore ILINet data should be interpreted with caution.”

Outpatient visits for influenza-like illness made up 2.9% of all visits to health care providers for the week ending April 11, which is the 23rd consecutive week that it’s been at or above the national baseline level of 2.4%. Twenty-three weeks is longer than this has occurred during any flu season since the CDC started setting a baseline in 2007, according to ILINet data.

Mortality from pneumonia and influenza, at 11.7%, was well above the epidemic threshold of 7.0%, although, again, pneumonia mortality “is being driven primarily by an increase in non-influenza pneumonia deaths due to COVID-19,” the CDC wrote.

The total number of influenza-related deaths in children, with reports of two more added this week, is 168 for the season – higher than two of the last three seasons: 144 in 2018-2019, 188 in 2017-2018, and 110 in 2016-2017, according to the CDC.

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