CDC: Flu reaches “epidemic” level

January 2, 2015

After 15 children died from complications associated with the flu this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the illness an “epidemic.”

After 21 children died from complications associated with the flu this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the illness an “epidemic.”

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As of December 20, the number of states reporting a high amount of “influenza-like” illness activity has increased from 13 to 22 since the previous week. Hospitalizations from the flu also soared during the week, and seniors and children under 4 years old accounted for the highest rate of hospitalizations.

Four influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during the week ending December 20. Three deaths were associated with an influenza A (H3) virus and one death was associated with an influenza B virus.

 “The CDC Flu View web site…measures mortality and it has a threshold. When the numbers of deaths reaches a certain threshold, it is considered an epidemic,” a CDC spokesperson told FormularyWatch. “We have an epidemic of the flu every year.”

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In fact, national influenza-like-illness (ILI) is now approaching the peak level seen during the 2012-2013 season, according to the CDC.

In addition to deaths, more than 2,600 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported through the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) since October 1, accounting for a cumulative overall rate of 9.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 population.

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Puerto Rico and 22 states experienced high influenza-like activity, an increase from 13 states during the previous week. Six states (Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) experienced moderate ILI activity. Officials now said the virus is now widespread throughout Kentucky and Indiana.