Influenza Surveillance Update – Alicia Budd (CDC)
Alicia provided the first official update for the 2018–2019 influenza season.
The report today covers week 40, ending on October 6. All influenza indicators are showing low levels of activity, which is to be expected at this time of year. Clinical labs are reporting <1% of specimens are positive for influenza. Public health labs have reported 24 flu positive specimens collected during week 40. Of these, 80% were influenza A and 20% were influenza B. Of the subtyped influenza A viruses, 75% were H1. Of the B viruses for which lineage information was available, 80% were B Yamagata viruses. Alicia cautioned that these numbers are very low and should not be used to make sweeping predictions about the upcoming season.
CDC’s lab is continuing to perform antigenic and genetic characterization on the subset of specimens sent to public health labs. Alicia pointed out that the data in the current FluView is not based solely on week 40 information. Rather, it is on specimens collected throughout the summer, going back to May 20. CDC will continue using this cumulative data for several more weeks because it takes a while for the characterization to be completed. This also allows enough cases to help develop meaningful information. At least 90% of each of the subtypes are antigenically similar to the cell-propagated reference viruses for this season.
Outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) were at 1.4%, below the baseline of 2.2%. All regions were below their region-specific baselines. For week 40, all states were reporting minimal ILI intensity.
Influenza-related mortality in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) system show the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the epidemic threshold.
Two pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 40. However, both deaths actually occurred during the 2017–2018 season (with one in January 2018 and one in September 2018), and both deaths were associated with influenza B virus infection. These two reports bring the total number of pediatric deaths for the 2017–2018 season to 183. To date, no pediatric deaths have been reported for the 2018–2019 season, which officially began on October 1.
Looking at the geographic spread of flu, 12 states reported no influenza activity, 35 states reported sporadic activity, and 2 states reported local activity.
Announcements – L.J Tan (IAC)
- New 65+ Flu Defense website – L.J reported that IAC, in collaboration with Seqirus, has launched a new 65+ Flu Defense website. The site is targeted to healthcare providers to help them give a strong, confident recommendation for flu vaccination for those over 65. This recognizes that a provider’s recommendation is extremely important while also acknowledging challenges that providers are facing due to inconsistent information about vaccine effectiveness (VE). IAC created this website to talk about the other important things that influence a vaccination decision besides simply prevention of disease. disease. The website includes talking points on subjects such as inflamm-aging that is exacerbated by influenza infection, and the impact of vaccination on reducing this negative effect. The talking points also discuss vaccination impact on reducing hospitalization rates. Other tools included on the site help providers shift the conversation to give a more confident recommendation.
- Summit Call Schedule – The Summit calls have resumed a weekly schedule. All calls take place on Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET. Due to next week’s ACIP Meeting, no call will be held on October 25. An update of ACIP actions will be given during the meeting on November 1.