Flu indicators are showing signs of increased and sustained pandemic flu activity in some Southeastern states, though rates remain steady at the national level, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said March 26.
This CDC report tracks closely with media reports last week of a rise in flu hospitalizations in Georgia and rising flu-like illnesses in Louisiana and surrounding states. The report of increased activity in the Southeast is also consistent with regional flu activity at college campuses in the Southeast reported by the American College Health Association.
Three of the CDC's 10 regions reported increases in doctors visits for flu-like illnesses, including the one encompassing Southeastern states; the region that includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska; and the area that covers Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada.
The increases were over regional, not national, baselines. On a national level, the doctor's visit flu barometer stayed below the national baseline, CIDRAP News reported.
No states are reporting widespread flu activity, and only three — Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina — are reporting regional activity. Local activity was reported by Puerto Rico and eight states: Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Some Southeastern states are reporting recent increases in flu-related hospitalization, though very few hospitalizations involving lab-confirmed pandemic H1N1 were reported in the rest of the nation, the CDC said.
The nation's deaths from pneumonia and flu increased slightly during the previous week to above the seasonal baseline, but the level is still below the epidemic threshold.
Only one new pediatric flu death was reported, which was linked to an undetermined influenza A subtype, which health officially typically assume is the pandemic H1N1 virus. The death occurred in a Mississippi child during the week that ended on Mar 6.
The pandemic H1N1 virus is still the dominant flu strain, the CDC reported. Though several other countries are increasingly detecting influenza B cases, only two of the 3,050 respiratory specimens tested in the United States last week were that strain.
One more case of oseltamivir-resistant pandemic flu was reported to the CDC last week. Most patients have been given oseltamivir (Tamiflu) for treatment or prophylaxis.
The CDC is still recommending the pandemic flu vaccine for anyone who is age 6 months or older, and officials strongly urge that people with underlying health conditions, the very young, and people age 65 or older get vaccinated. Vaccine supplies are plentiful and the circulating virus still closely matches the one in the pandemic vaccine.