This posting will review any news on the influenza epidemic of 2017-2018 since last week.
The main news comes from the official CDC reporting that is issued every week at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm#ILIMap
The last report, issued near the end of last week updates the trends, and the results are as follows:
- The influenza virus epidemic continues to be present. The incidence of influenza virus infection continues to climb.
- This year’s influenza virus epidemichas infected more people than in most years. A typical year finds about 3-5% of people at the height of the influenza virus epidemic having any sort of flu-like symptoms. As of the last CDC report that number is rising to around 7.5%.
- But, as with every year, the winter seasonal influenza epidemic will rise in incidence, then fall in incidence. As with every year, during the rise, more people worry, and as the epidemic wanes and goes away, fewer people worry.
- Seasonal winter influenza virus epidemics always start around December and end around April. In many years the influenza virus entirely leaves the United States by the end of March, and in all years it has left our country by the end of April. This year saw it really appear sometime in December, and as with all prior years, we anticipate it will leave us alone and stop causing infections either by the end of March or sometime in April. The end of this epidemic is coming!
- The most awful stories are of severe infection in childhood, and the TV channels and social media outlets have been aggressive to go out and show us all as many intimate details of these very, very rare tragedies. As reported before, the number of children who have actually died from the influenza virus this year is less than the number who have died in prior influenza virus epidemics. The typical influenza virus epidemic leads to the awful and tragic passing of 90-150 children. So far, this epidemic has claimed the lives of 53 children, up from 37 last week, but still on track to lead to the same range, or even fewer deaths in children. This is not a more deadly influenza virus epidemic for children compared to ones the CDC has records for.
That’s the latest data, it all is consistent with the basic fact that every year the influenza virus causes millions of colds and flus across America, typically from December through March/April. All but about 1-5 in a million children who catch this virus recover very well, making this infection far safer than the TV would like us to believe. The flu shot helps prevent illness from the influenza virus and from severe illness as well.
We hope you and your family get through the remaining couple or so months of this year’s influenza virus epidemic safely. Let us know if you need our help.
To your health,
Dr Arthur Lavin