MMWR News Synopsis for February 15, 2018

Update: Influenza Activity — United States, October 1, 2017–February 3, 2018

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Influenza activity this season has been substantial, with some of the highest levels of influenza-like illness and hospitalization rates recorded in recent years, with elevated activity occurring in most of the country simultaneously.  Elevated influenza activity is expected to continue for several more weeks. Influenza activity in the United States began to increase in early November 2017 and rose sharply from December through February 3, 2018. Influenza A viruses were most commonly identified, with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating, but influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B viruses also were detected. With several more weeks of elevated influenza activity expected, an increasing proportion of influenza A(H1N1)pmd09 and influenza B viruses, and the potential to prevent significant illness through influenza vaccination, CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination at this time. During more severe influenza seasons, influenza antiviral medications can be of greater usey as an adjunct to vaccination in the treatment of influenza.  While most people with influenza will experience uncomplicated illness and recover without needing medical care, some people are at high risk of developing serious flu complications. Early treatment with neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications is recommended for patients with severe, complicated, or progressive influenza illness and people who are at high risk for influenza complications, including adults aged ≥65 years, who develop influenza symptoms. Everyday preventive measures such as cough and respiratory etiquette, staying home from work or school when sick and frequent hand hygiene, also can help slow the spread of influenza.

Interim Estimates of 2017–18 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2018

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While flu vaccines vary in how well they work, vaccination can provide important protection against influenza. People age 6 months or older who have not yet been vaccinated this season should be vaccinated. However, some people who get vaccinated will still get sick with influenza. People who are very sick or who are at high risk of serious flu complications should be treated with flu antiviral medications as soon as they develop flu symptoms. Early estimates indicate that influenza vaccines have reduced the risk of medically attended influenza-related illness by about one-third in vaccinated persons so far this season. Vaccination reduced illness caused by the predominant influenza A(H3N2) viruses by 25 percent among patients of all ages, and among vaccinated children 6 months through 8 years of age by more than half (59 percent). Vaccine effectiveness against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses was 67 percent and against influenza B viruses was 42 percent.  Effectiveness against influenza A(H3N2) viruses is typically lower than against influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B viruses and CDC is actively investigating possible reasons. For these estimates, 4,562 children and adults with acute respiratory illness were enrolled from November 2, 2017 through February 3, 2018, at five study sites with outpatient medical facilities in the United States.

Prevalence of Obesity Among Youths by Household Income and Education Level of Head of Household — United States 2011–2014

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Differences in childhood obesity by head-of-household education are more consistent across subgroups than differences by income. Lower levels of income are not universally associated with childhood obesity. The association is complex and differs by sex, race, and Hispanic origin – and possibly over time. Differences by education are more consistent across subgroups than differences by income. The prevalence of obesity among youth living in households headed by college graduates was lower than among those living in households headed by less educated individuals for each race/Hispanic origin group. The same was not true for those living in the highest income groups. Moreover, differences by income and education of household head are widening among females.

Health-Risk Behaviors and Chronic Conditions Among Adults with Inflammatory Bowel Disease — United States, 2015 and 2016

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Public health officials and consumers should be aware that truffle oil has been implicated as the likely source of a salmonella outbreak and could possibly harbor this pathogen. In September 2015, the District of Columbia Department of Health (DCDOH) received reports of gastrointestinal illness and hospitalizations among people who had eaten at a single District of Columbia restaurant. Laboratory tests performed on stool cultures from the initial case-patients identified Salmonella Enteritidis.

Reasons for Electronic Cigarette Use Among Middle and High School Students — National Youth Tobacco Survey, United States, 2016

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Efforts to prevent middle school and high school students from initiating the use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, are important to reduce tobacco product use among U.S. youths. To assess self-reported reasons for e-cigarette use among U.S. middle- and high-school students, CDC and the Food and Drug Administration analyzed data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey. In 2016, among students who had ever used an e-cigarette, the most commonly selected reasons for use were: 1) use by a “friend or family member” (39.0 percent); 2) availability of “flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate” (31.0 percent); and 3) the belief that “they are less harmful than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes” (17.1 percent). As noted by the Surgeon General, population-level strategies to reduce e-cigarette use among youth include incorporating e-cigarettes into smokefree indoor air policies, restricting youth access to e-cigarettes in retail settings, licensing retailers, and establishing specific package requirements.

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Page last reviewed: February 15, 2018