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
Congratulations Ohio, we are now officially at the end of our 2017-2018 influenza virus epidemic. The CDC just today designated Ohio as a state that has the lowest level of influenza virus infection that they designate, officially minimal, lower than low.
- The influenza virus epidemic of 2017-2018 is not only disappearing, but in Ohio has reached nearly absent levels.
- The most troubling number, the number of children who lost their lives to the influenza virus, is down very nearly to zero as of the latest data released today. The weekly total is now, across the entire United States, which includes a total of 100 million children, a total of 5 lives lost, total. This brings the total for the year right in line with every year the CDC has tracked the number of childhood deaths from this virus, making this year no more deadly to children than any other year on record for seasonal influenza virus infection.
- The drop in influenza virus cases is striking, and is rather impressively precisely on time, as in nearly every year of seasonal influenza virus infections, the virus disappears in ways we do not know, every March and April, and that is exactly what is happening, right now this March.
Now, many will ask, if the influenza virus is disappearing so thoroughly from Ohio, why are so many kids hot with fever, aching with pains, noses runny, chests coughing, or having vomiting and diarrhea.
The main answer is that the influenza virus is only one of many species of viruses that cause colds, flus, and stomach flus. Other viruses include the rhinovirus, the coronavirus, the adenovirus, and many others. These viruses are not so seasonal, meaning kids and adults can get them any day. And right now, we are seeing, many, many cases of viral illness.
The less important reason is that though cases of actual influenza viral infection are fast going away, the number is not yet zero, we expect to hit actual zero by the end of this month or in April, so until then we will all have or hear of children and adults who still test positive for influenza. But every week now that will become less and less common, and then cease all together.
We are very glad to see this virus, the influenza virus, go away until next fall.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin