CDC: Number of new flu cases down, but still high

March 15 (UPI) — The number of people who reported having the flu last week has gone down, but reports of influenza A(H3)-associated illnesses outpaced those associated with A(H1N1). Overall, the nation still remains at an elevated level for the flu, officials say.

That’s the third week in a row that more people reported illnesses related to H3 than H1N1, according to a report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In all, the hospitalization rate was 41.3 per 100,000 people. The highest rate was 123.9 per 100,000 among adults ages 65 and older, while children between ages 0 and 4 had a rate of 54.8 per 100,000. Out patient reports of visits for the flu have gone down a bit to 4.5 percent, which is still above the national threshold of 2.2 percent.

Last week, 7.2 percent of the deaths resulted from the flu or pneumonia, just slightly below epidemic levels of 7.3 percent, according to National Center for Health Statistics. During that time, two pediatric deaths were associated with H3 and one death to H1N1.

High flu activity has been reported in 46 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

So far this flu season, 68 people have died from some form of the flu, including eight pediatric deaths.

However, 99 percent of the flu viruses can be treated by oral drugs, oseltamivir and zanamivir, along with intravenous drug peramivir.

The lower flu numbers come the same week the World Health Organization released its Global Influenza Strategy for 2019 to 2030

“The threat of pandemic influenza is ever-present,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said in a news release. “The on-going risk of a new influenza virus transmitting from animals to humans and potentially causing a pandemic is real. The question is not if we will have another pandemic, but when. We must be vigilant and prepared — the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention.”

The program aims to build stronger country capacities to keep a watch out for and respond to the flu, as well as prepare for, prevent and control the virus.

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