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Influenza Virus Epidemic of 2017-2018 – February 16th Update

By Dr. Arthur Lavin

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, but for the first time we are pleased to report the latest CDC data, released today, shows the epidemic has likely peaked.
  • On every measure, the rate of infection from the influenza virus is dropping, and in only one measure (the rate of infection with Influenza B) is the rate infection not dropping, but even this measure is steady, not rising.
  • The most awful stories remain 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.  This fact remains solidly true in this most recent report.  Tragically, the number of deaths from the influenza virus in the 2017-2018 has gone up, from 63 in last week’s report, now up to 84.  That is certainly far too many, but again, it is a number lower than in prior years.  And the rate of children suffering a fatal outcome from this virus is dropping dramatically, very thankfully.
  • And so the influenza virus epidemic of 2017-2018 is finally doing what it was of course certain to happen, it is ending.  The ending happens as reliably as the beginning, and that ending is just beginning to be very likely to be here now.  Perhaps the greatest relief will be experienced by all families whose children will now have colds without the scary screaming from TV and social media that a very scary epidemic is amongst us.   As these reports have hopefully made clear, there never was a very scary epidemic.  This year’s epidemic infected a lot of people, it’s level of danger was not tremendously different than many other influenza virus epidemics.  If the new reports are indeed an early sign that the end of this epidemic has begun, we can all go back to seeing our children’s colds as just that.


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

In case you missed it, I recently wrote an article that helps provide some background to this topic: The Language of Viral Diseases- What do we mean when we say: a cold, the flu, viral infection, stomach flu? 


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