Based upon the release of the latest influenza data by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Feb. 22, the long influenza season of 2012-2013 appears to be winding down. The data is for the period Oct. 1, 2012 through Feb. 16, 2013, week seven of the year. The national percentage of visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) has fallen to 2.8 percent of all visits and is rapidly nearing the national baseline of 2.2 percent.
Influenza is still being reported, and deaths from the illness or its complications are still above epidemic levels. The 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System is showing 8.6 percent of all deaths in their jurisdictions being due to pneumonia or influenza. This is above the national epidemic threshold rate for the week of 7.54 percent but well down from a peak of nearly ten percent four weeks ago.
The pediatric death toll nationally from the flu continues to rise. Through the end of week seven, 78 children have died due to influenza, according to the CDC. Texas leads the list of states reporting pediatric flu deaths with 13. Reporting of flu-related deaths for both adults and children lags other data due to the time needed to complete testing and confirm cause of death.
Flu is reported as geographically widespread in 22 states. However, ILI activity is reported to be high in only 3, Vermont, New Jersey and Nevada. Minimal ILI activity is being reported in 23 states. The southeastern United States has seen influenza-like illness activity fall to its regional baseline.
The flu season began Oct. 1, 2012, but several states were already reporting higher than normal levels of influenza and ILI activity. Public health authorities recognized early on that many states would see higher than average numbers of flu cases and earlier seasonal peaks, and that has proven to be the case. The data from the CDC at the end of 19 weeks of the influenza season seems to suggest that influenza illnesses are rapidly declining in numbers in most areas though the threat of a flu illness will remain for some time.