There is a light at the end of the flu tunnel for New Yorkers. Most indicators for influenza activity decreased for week seven of 2013, as reported by the New York State Health Department. The department released flu data for the state for the week ending Feb. 16 on Feb. 21.
The percentage of patients visiting their doctors with influenza-like illnesses (ILI) remained unchanged for the week at 3.62 percent, above the 2 percent baseline. The number of patients hospitalized with laboratory confirmed influenza fell for the fifth week in a row. There were 279 patients admitted with the flu throughout the state, well down from the peak of over 1,250 patients admitted in the week ending Jan. 12. A total of 7,864 patients have been hospitalized for influenza since the season began Oct. 1.
The number of influenza outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes reported for the week was very low, with five confirmed. For the entire flu season, 484 such outbreaks have been reported. New York does not track adult fatalities due to influenza.
The number of pediatric deaths from influenza increased by two in the week. This influenza season has taken the lives of eight New York children since Oct. 1. Pediatric patients represent 38 percent of all laboratory confirmed flu cases in the state.
Long Island leads the state with the greatest percentage of visits to hospital emergency departments for an ILI, with 6.5 percent.. The Hudson Valley is second with six percent. Western New York, the Buffalo and Rochester region, showed the largest decline in such visits for the week and the rate for the region is now under five percent.