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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Flu Activity Still Picking Up

By January 5, 2013

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Not surprisingly, flu activity is still picking up across the United States.

After weeks of rising levels of flu activity, the CDC reports that we are "nearing what have been peak levels" of influenza-like illness in past flu seasons that have been moderately severe.

Does that mean that we are near the peak of this year's flu season? Although it is everyone's hope that flu season will soon peak and quickly return to low levels, this year's flu season offers a good reminder that the flu can be very unpredictable.

"While we can't say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations," says Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC's Influenza Division.

Specifically, the CDC is reporting:

  • widespread flu activity in 41 states (up from 31 states last week)
  • regional flu activity in just 7 states (down from 14 states last week)
  • local and sporadic activity in just 1 state (down from 5 states last week)
  • 2 new pediatric flu deaths, bringing the total to 18 pediatric flu deaths for the 2012-13 flu season

And since the CDC states that "based on past experience it's likely that flu activity will continue for some time," this is still a good time to get a flu vaccine if you haven't had one yet. If your own pediatrician is out of flu shots, you might check with your local health department, hospital, or pharmacies, and find a flu shot wherever you can.

Also remember that antiviral flu medicines, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, can be a good "second line of defense against influenza," especially if started early in high risk patients, including young children.

On the bright side, this year's flu vaccine does seem to be a good match for the strains of flu virus that are going around.

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