US sees earliest flu season in 10 years

The U.S. is seeing more flu activity than normal at this point in the season, with 30 states already reporting activity — the most states reporting this early in a decade, CDC officials said during a conference call with the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network this week, according to CNN.  

Seven things to know: 

1. The percentage of outpatient visits for flu-like illness was 2.5 percent for the week ending Nov. 16, up from 2.3 percent a week prior, according to the CDC's most recent FluView report. This figure surpasses the national baseline of 2.4 percent, with four of 10 regions at or above their baseline.

2. About 7.2 percent of respiratory specimens tested positive for flu in clinical laboratories nationwide for the week ending Nov. 16, an increase from 3.2 in the week ending Nov. 1. The CDC has confirmed 5,299 positive specimens since Sep. 29.

3. The overall hospitalization rate for the season is 1.4 per 100,000 people, similar to rates at the same time in previous seasons.

4. High flu-like illness activity was reported in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas for the week ending Nov. 16. New York City, along with 12 states, reported low activity, with the District of Columbia and 30 states reporting minimal activity. There was not sufficient data to calculate activity for Louisiana. 

5. Death rate attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the epidemic threshold of 6 percent, with 5.2 percent of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza. 

6. One new pediatric flu death was reported to the CDC in the week ending Nov. 16. The pediatric death count is now four for the 2019-20 flu season.

7. Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, South Carolina and Louisiana reported widespread flu activity, and nine states reported regional flu activity for the week ending Nov. 16. Twenty-three states reported local flu activity and 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, reported sporadic activity. Rhode Island reported no flu activity.

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