For the first time since the influenza season began on Oct. 1, California is reporting the illness is widespread. The state released its weekly flu report for the week ending Jan. 12 on Jan. 18. In the last two weeks, visits to sentinel providers for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) have climbed from below the state's baseline average to well above epidemic levels. The percentage of visits to these select medical care providers for an ILI is now 5.4 percent and the epidemic threshold is 4.5 percent.
Over 21 percent of specimens submitted to labs tested positive for influenza during the week. RSV illnesses levels are also high in the state with 26.9 percent of those specimens testing positive. The state received reports of 3 outbreaks of the flu in congregate living facilities and these were the first of the season.
California tracks flu deaths in persons under age 65. One such death was reported for the week and a total of 5 have been reported for the season to date. There have been no influenza deaths in pediatric patients since Oct. 1.
California joins 47 other states with widespread influenza activity. Overall ILI activity as reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) remains at moderate levels in the state and on the West Coast in general.