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Update: Influenza Activity --- United States, February 12--18, 2006
During February 12--18, 2006,* the number of states reporting widespread influenza activity increased to 17. Eighteen states reported regional activity, 10 reported local activity, and four reported sporadic activity (Figure 1).§
The percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza increased in the United States overall. During the preceding 3 weeks (weeks 5--7), the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza ranged from 31.2% in the East North Central region to 10.5% in the Pacific region. The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI)¶ increased during the week ending February 18 and remains above the national baseline.** The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the epidemic threshold for the week ending February 18.
During February 12--18, World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating laboratories and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) laboratories in the United States reported testing 2,864 specimens for influenza viruses, of which 437 (15.3%) were positive. Of these, 116 were influenza A (H3N2) viruses, six were influenza A (H1N1) viruses, 288 were influenza A viruses that were not subtyped, and 27 were influenza B viruses.
Since October 2, 2005, WHO and NREVSS laboratories have tested 73,094 specimens for influenza viruses, of which 6,174 (8.4%) were positive. Of these, 5,905 (95.6%) were influenza A viruses, and 269 (4.4%) were influenza B viruses. Of the 5,905 influenza A viruses, 2,674 (45.3%) have been subtyped; 2,640 (98.7%) were influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and 34 (1.3%) were influenza A (H1N1) viruses.
P&I Mortality and ILI Surveillance
During the week ending February 18, P&I accounted for 7.3% of all deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System. This percentage is below the epidemic threshold of 8.3% (Figure 2).
The percentage of patient visits for ILI was 2.8%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2% (Figure 3). The percentage of patient visits for ILI ranged from 1.5% in the Pacific region to 4.3% in the West South Central region.
Pediatric Deaths and Hospitalizations
During October 2, 2005--February 11, 2006, CDC received reports of 14 influenza-associated deaths in U.S. residents aged <18 years. Twelve of the deaths occurred during the current influenza season, and two occurred during the 2004--05 influenza season.
During October 1, 2005--February 4, 2006, the preliminary laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalization rate reported by the Emerging Infections Program§§ for children aged 0--17 years was 0.30 per 10,000. For children aged 0--4 years and 5--17 years, the rates were 0.78 per 10,000 and 0.04 per 10,000, respectively. During October 30, 2005--February 4, 2006, the preliminary laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalization rate for children aged 0--4 years in the New Vaccine Surveillance Network¶¶ was 0.33 per 10,000.
Human Avian Influenza A (H5N1)
No human avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infection has ever been identified in the United States. From December 2003 through February 27, 2006, a total of 173 laboratory-confirmed human avian influenza A (H5N1) infections were reported to WHO from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.*** Of these, 93 (54%) were fatal (Table). This represents an increase of two cases in China and one case and one death in Indonesia since February 20, 2006. The majority of infections appear to have been acquired from direct contact with infected poultry. No evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of H5N1 has been detected, although rare instances of human-to-human transmission likely have occurred (1).
* Provisional data reported as of February 24. Additional information about influenza activity is updated each Friday and is available from CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/flu.
Levels of activity are 1) widespread: outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like illness (ILI) cases and recent laboratory-confirmed influenza in at least half the regions of a state; 2) regional: outbreaks of influenza or increases in ILI cases and recent laboratory-confirmed influenza in at least two but less than half the regions of a state; 3) local: outbreaks of influenza or increases in ILI cases and recent laboratory-confirmed influenza in a single region of a state; 4) sporadic: small numbers of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases or a single influenza outbreak reported but no increase in cases of ILI; and 5) no activity.
§ Widespread: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming; regional: Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin; local: Arizona, California, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and Vermont; sporadic: Hawaii, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia; no activity: none; no report: Idaho.
¶ Temperature of >100.0°F (>37.8°C) and cough and/or sore throat in the absence of a known cause other than influenza.
** The national baseline was calculated as the mean percentage of visits for ILI during noninfluenza weeks for the preceding three seasons, plus two standard deviations. Noninfluenza weeks are those in which <10% of laboratory specimens are positive for influenza. Wide variability in regional data precludes calculating region-specific baselines; therefore, applying the national baseline to regional data is inappropriate.
The expected seasonal baseline proportion of P&I deaths reported by the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System is projected using a robust regression procedure in which a periodic regression model is applied to the observed percentage of deaths from P&I that occurred during the preceding 5 years. The epidemic threshold is 1.645 standard deviations above the seasonal baseline.
§§ The Emerging Infections Program Influenza Project conducts surveillance in 60 counties associated with 12 metropolitan areas: San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; New Haven, Connecticut; Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Albany, New York; Rochester, New York; Portland, Oregon; and Nashville, Tennessee.
¶¶ The New Vaccine Surveillance Network conducts surveillance in Monroe County, New York; Hamilton County, Ohio; and Davidson County, Tennessee.
***Available at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en.
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Date last reviewed: 3/2/2006