Flu activity highest in Southern states: 8 notes from CDC's flu report

The U.S. is seeing flu activity rise earlier than usual, with Southern states reporting the highest levels of activity, according to the CDC's latest FluView report for the week ending Oct. 8. 

Overall, activity remains low, "but increasing in most of the country," the CDC said. HHS region 4 (Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida) and region 6 (New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana) are reporting the highest levels of flu activity. 

All data in the FluView report are preliminary and may change as more reports are received, the agency said. 

Seven more notes: 

1. The CDC's state-by-state map of flu activity had not been updated for the week ending Oct. 8, making it unclear what flu activity level individual states reported. However, the CDC's report indicates one jurisdiction reported very high flu activity, five reported high activity, three reported moderate activity, 14 reported low activity and remaining states reported minimal activity. 

2. For the week ending Oct. 8, 1,322 lab-confirmed flu patients were admitted to the hospital. That's up from 885 admitted the prior week. 

3. Three flu-associated pediatric deaths that occurred in February, April and May were reported to the CDC for the week ending Oct. 8. A total of 43 flu-related pediatric deaths have been reported during the 2021-22 flu season. 

4. Clinical laboratories tested 53,565 specimens for influenza for the week ending Oct. 8. Of those, 3.3 percent were positive, most of which for influenza A. The positivity rate was 2.2 percent for the week prior. 

5. The percentage of visits to an outpatient provider for influenza-like illness — meaning fever plus cough or sore throat, not lab-confirmed flu — was 2.6 percent for the week ending Oct. 8. This is above the national baseline of 2.5 percent. 

6. Nationwide, 0.3 percent of 14,331 long-term care facilities reported at least one flu-positive test among residents for the week ending Oct. 8. 

7. The national flu, pneumonia and/or COVID-19 mortality rate is 8.7 percent, which sits above the epidemic threshold of 5.8 percent for the week. Among the 1,928 deaths reported for the week, 898 had COVID-19 and nine had the flu listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death. This indicates the current death rate for pneumonia, influenza and COVID-19 is primarily due to COVID-19, the CDC said.

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