By: R. Michael Brown, Civic Association Communication Director — Flu activity levels statewide continue to increase sharply for the fourth week in a row and were above peak levels observed during the previous two seasons. Sharp increases in activity have been observed in all regions of the state and across all age groups.
In South Florida, flu activity is above peak levels observed during the previous three seasons.
Nationwide there are more than 41,000 confirmed flu cases, more than double this time last year according to the Center for Disease Control.
The Florida Department of Health reported this week, “Nearly all of the outbreaks (98.4%) reported so far this season have been for people at higher risk for complications due to influenza infection (children and adults aged ≥65 years). Based on the data available for the outbreaks that have been reported thus far, this flu season may be more severe; this trend will be monitored closely.”
Immunizations and Prevention
- The Florida Department of Health recommends that sick people stay home until feve rfree for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and that all people exercise good handwashing practices,
- Get your flu shot now. Flu vaccines can vary in effectiveness from season to season but they continue to be the best way to prevent influenza infection and serious influenza complications.
- To locate a flu shot near you, contact your physician, your local county health department, or use the Florida Department of Health’s flu shot locator: www.floridahealth.gov/findaflushot
- CDC recommends the use of antiviral treatment as soon as possible for all persons with suspected influenza for all hospitalized, severely ill, and people who are at higher risk for complications: children <2 years, adults ≥65 years old, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions. Treatment should be administered within 48 hours of illness onset (but treatment administered after this period can still be beneficial), although, unfortunately, there is often a delay in administering antiviral treatment.
- A recent CDC health advisory stresses the importance of rapid and early antiviral treatment this season. For more information, visit: https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00409.asp
- Clinicians should not wait for laboratory confirmation to administer antivirals for suspect influenza.
Graph: Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Hospitalizations. Green Line is 65 and older population