As health officials deal with the international and national repercussions of the coronavirus, local reports of a spike in flu cases is complicating the information gathering and public health messaging.
Coronavirus and the flu have many similar symptoms. The 2019-nCoV symptoms include runny nose, headache, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell.
The Kane County Health Department’s Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report for Week 5, released Friday (Feb. 7, 2020) shows a big jump in the percentage of emergency room visits and school absences.
Week 5 is the week of Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, 2020.
During that week:
- Among five reporting hospital emergency rooms, 13.1% of visits were for influenza-like illness.
- Six labs reported that 622 of 1,631 (38.1%) specimens tested for influenza were positive.2 Of these 622 specimens:
- 260 (41.8%) were positive for Influenza A
- 362 (58.2%) were positive for Influenza B
- The ILI absenteeism rate for public schools in Kane County was 0.87%. No public school was closed due to increased ILI activity.
- As of the week ending Feb. 1, there have been 27 influenza-related ICU admission reported to the health department.
- To date, two outbreaks of influenza have been reported in Long-Term Care/Assisted Living facilities in Kane County.
Nationally, the CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 22 million flu illnesses, 210,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from flu.
The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza is 7.1% — just below the epidemic threashold of 7.2%.
In Week 5 alone, there were 10 influenza-associated pediatric deaths. The total pediatric deaths during the 2019-20 season is 78.
Other key statistics are
- Outpatient ILI and laboratory data remain elevated and increased again this week. Nationally, and in some regions, the proportion of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses compared to influenza B viruses is increasing.
- Overall, hospitalization rates remain similar to this time during recent seasons, but rates among children and young adults are higher at this time than in recent seasons.
- Pneumonia and influenza mortality has been low, but 78 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported so far this season.
- Flu vaccine effectiveness estimates will be available later this month, but vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications.
- Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza. Almost all (>99%) of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the four FDA-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the U.S. this season.
SOURCE: Kane County Health Department, CDC