Influenza season starts with low national activity

The 2012-2013 influenza-reporting season began on Sept. 30, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing it s first FluView report for the week ending Oct. 6. FluView, which includes new interactive visualization tools, shows that influenza activity is low nationwide.

CDC routinely tracks influenza activity in the United States with a system that determines when and where influenza activity is occurring, which influenza viruses are circulating, and detects changes in influenza viruses. The system also measures the burden of influenza disease in the United States, including flu-related illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

Here is CDC's synopsis for the reporting period of Sept. 30 through Oct. 6:

  • Viral surveillance. Of 2,870 specimens tested and reported by U.S. World Health Organization and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System collaborating laboratories during the week, 75 (2.6 percent) were positive for influenza.
  • Pneumonia and influenza mortality. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the epidemic threshold.
  • Influenza-associated pediatric deaths. No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • Outpatient illness surveillance. The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 1.2 percent, which is below the national baseline of 2.2 percent. All 10 regions reported ILI below region-specific baseline levels. Forty-seven states and New York City experienced minimal ILI activity and the District of Columbia and three states had insufficient data.
  • Geographic spread of influenza. The geographic spread of influenza in one state was reported as local (Wyoming); the District of Columbia and 29 states reported sporadic activity; Guam and 18 states reported no influenza activity, and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and two states did not report.

The agency said this year's version of FluView includes enhanced web-based interactive applications that can provide dynamic visuals of the influenza data collected and analyzed by CDC. The FluView interactive applications allow creation of customized, visual interpretations of influenza data, as well as comparisons across flu seasons, regions, age groups and a variety of other demographics.

CDC noted that it cannot predict how severe the upcoming flu season will be. However, the agency recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated against influenza each year.  More than 112 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccine already have been distributed by vaccine manufacturers in the United States this season and further distribution is expected.

Click here to access the FluView interactive reports.

FluView image credit: CDC