Story at a glance

  • Influenza has killed 6,600 people in the U.S. so far this season, 39 of them children.
  • Data collected for January shows a weekly decline in activity.
  • CDC experts warn the season isn’t over yet.

The flu has claimed the lives of 39 children this season so far, but the number of cases actually decreased over the week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Data released for the week ending on Jan. 11 saw the overall percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza drop to 22.9 percent from 23.6 percent last week. 

Similarly, visits to health care facilities reporting influenza-like symptoms and illnesses fell to 4.7 percent this week after last week’s 5.7 percent. 

Experts are still cautious, however, because flu season is not quite over. Speaking to CNN, team lead for the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance Lynnette Brammer said that flu cases are still at “pretty high levels right now.” Data collected by the CDC show 32 states are experiencing high levels of flu activity. 

Brammer also notes that a strain of the flu, called influenza A, is rising despite national flu activity falling. 

"The increase in A activity, we don't know what effect that is going to have. Influenza activity may go up again," Brammer explained. "This is something we're going to watch pretty carefully." 

The CDC states that the B/Victoria virus, or influenza B strain, is predominant this season, but recent weeks have shown that cases of influenza A are catching up to influenza B. September 2019 data shows this season saw a composite of 43.3 percent of influenza A cases and 56.7 percent of influenza B cases. 

In terms of pediatric deaths, 28 of the 39 deaths were associated with influenza B viruses, primarily the B/Victoria strain. The other 11 deaths were attributed to influenza A. 

Brammer still believes that the season isn’t over yet, and that “we still have plenty of flu season to come.”

Overall, the CDC estimates that there have been approximately 13 million cases of the flu, resulting in 6,600 deaths. 

 

Published on Jan 17, 2020