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Update: Influenza Activity --- United States, February 19--25, 2006

During February 19--25, 2006,* the number of states reporting widespread influenza activity increased to 21. Fourteen states reported regional activity, 10 reported local activity, and five 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 6--8), the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza ranged from 39.7% in the East North Central region to 7.5% in the Pacific region. The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased during the week ending February 25 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 25.

Laboratory Surveillance

During February 19--25, World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating laboratories and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) laboratories in the United States reported testing 2,066 specimens for influenza viruses, of which 439 (21.2%) were positive. Of these, 134 were influenza A (H3N2) viruses, 12 were influenza A (H1N1) viruses, 231 were influenza A viruses that were not subtyped, and 62 were influenza B viruses.

Since October 2, 2005, WHO and NREVSS laboratories have tested 79,336 specimens for influenza viruses, of which 7,256 (9.1%) were positive. Of these, 6,853 (94.4%) were influenza A viruses, and 403 (5.6%) were influenza B viruses. Of the 6,853 influenza A viruses, 3,105 (45.3%) have been subtyped; 3,046 (98.1%) were influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and 59 (1.9%) were influenza A (H1N1) viruses.

P&I Mortality and ILI Surveillance

During the week ending February 25, P&I accounted for 7.0% of 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 3.4%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2% (Figure 3). The percentage of patient visits for ILI ranged from 1.8% in the Pacific region to 6.9% in the West South Central region.

Pediatric Deaths and Hospitalizations

During October 2, 2005--February 25, 2006, CDC received reports of 13 influenza-associated deaths occurring during the 2005--06 influenza season in U.S. residents aged <18 years. During October 1, 2005--February 18, 2006, the preliminary laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalization rate reported by the Emerging Infections Program§§ for children aged 0--17 years was 0.48 per 10,000 population. For children aged 0--4 years and 5--17 years, the rate was 1.11 per 10,000 and 0.15 per 10,000, respectively. During October 30, 2005--February 18, 2006, the preliminary laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalization rate for children aged 0--4 years in the New Vaccine Surveillance Network¶¶ was 0.48 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 March 6, 2006, a total of 175 laboratory-confirmed human avian influenza A (H5N1) infections were reported to WHO from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.*** Of these, 95 (54%) were fatal (Table). This represents an increase of one case and one death in China and one case and one death in Iraq since February 27, 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).

Reference

  1. Ungchusak K, Auewarakul P, Dowell SF, et al. Probable person-to-person transmission of avian influenza A (H5N1). N Engl J Med 2005; 352:333--40.

* Provisional data reported as of March 3. 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, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming; regional: Alaska, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin; local: California, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Vermont; sporadic: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia; no activity: none; no report: none.

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 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: 3/9/2006

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