Nearly every state has updated its health department website with the influenza case data for week 3 of 2013. Twenty states are reporting higher rates of influenza-like illnesses than the national average. At least 561 flu deaths have been reported in adults and 46 in children. In those states that report the statistic, 23,941 patients have been hospitalized with confirmed influenza infections.
The only way to be certain that any patient has influenza is to submit a specimen for laboratory testing. There are rapid tests for the flu but they are less accurate than those done in a lab. While procedures vary widely across the nation, specimens are submitted to labs when influenza is the suspected diagnosis.
The weekly influenza report from the Centers for Disease Control was released this morning and contained data through Jan. 5, 2013. The CDC held a telephone press conference this morning to cover the report and a new study on flu vaccine effectiveness. Drs. Joseph Breese and Tom Frieden were the briefing experts.
Multiple news media outlets are violating the embargo on releasing the week 1 influenza report from the CDC. Here are a few thought, pending the release of the report in about two minutes.
Just three months into the 2012-2013 flu season, it appears that the United States will experience one of the most severe outbreaks this century. Data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest that the annual outbreak of respiratory illness has arrived earlier, and with more severe illnesses, than at any time since 2003-2004. Only the pandemic flu outbreak may have produced more illnesses and deaths when this season ends in May.