Flu cases on the downswing

Incidence rates drop as this year's flu season draws to an end.

By Stephanie Stapleton — Posted April 21, 2008

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Influenza activity continues to decrease, according to weekly surveillance reports compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the week ending March 22, the most recent for which data are available, widespread flu was reported in 17 states. In addition, 30 states reported regional influenza activity; two states and the District of Columbia noted local activity; and one state, as well as Puerto Rico, experienced sporadic activity.

These figures show a decline from that of early- to mid-February when influenza was widespread in 49 states for two consecutive weeks.

Nationwide, 2.6% of the outpatient visits tracked by the U.S. Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance Network were attributed to influenza-like illness. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.2%. But it also demonstrates a continued decline from earlier in the season, such as the week ending Feb. 23, when that figure was 5.7% of outpatient visits, and Feb. 16, when it was 6.4%.

On a regional level, the percentage of visits for influenza-like illness decreased as of March 22 in eight of the nine regions compared to a week earlier.

But the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was higher than the epidemic threshold of 7.1% for the eleventh consecutive week, according to the CDC's 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System. Specifically, during the week ending March 22, 8.9% of all deaths reported through this system were attributed to these illnesses. Also, five pediatric influenza-associated deaths were reported to CDC for that week. Since Sept. 30, 2007, the CDC has received a total of 53 reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths that occurred during the current season.

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Flu geography

As winter turned to spring, flu activity started to wind down. Estimates are for the week ending March 22.

Widespread activity: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia

Regional activity: Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Local activity: Massachusetts, Mississippi, District of Columbia

Sporadic activity: Arkansas, Puerto Rico

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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