HEALTH

Virulent, long  flu season finally over

BY DSN STAFF

It’s a wrap. This past week influenza activity in the United States continued to decrease and is now below the national baseline for the first time since late November, according to the latest FluView report from the Centeres for Disease Control and Prevention. This season will go into the record books as one of the most virulent and longest seasons this century, the agency said.

Influenza-like illness incidences dropped from 2.5% reported last week to 2.1% for the week ended April 7. The CDC said that current data indicate that the 2017-2018 flu season peaked at 7.5% in early February. You’d have to go back all the way to the 2003/2004 influenza season to find a more virulent season. That year, illness rates crested at 7.6%.

This year, illness rates for the 2017/2018 flu season were above the national baseline for 19 consecutive weeks. Only two seasons in the past 10 years have lasted nearly as long — ILI activity for both the 2016/2017 flu season and the 2012/2013 flu season tracked above the 2.2% baseline for a total of 17 weeks.

However, the agency said flu season is not over for everybody, as seven states continue to report widespread flu activity and two states continue to experience high ILI activity.

Hospitalization rates this season also have been record-breaking, exceeding end-of-season hospitalization rates for 2014-2015, a high severity, H3N2-predominant season, the CDC said.

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