New Jersey residents will find little comfort in the Health Department influenza report released Jan. 30. Rates of influenza and influenza-like illnesses (ILI) remain very high in the state. Some of the disease indicators are down for week four from week three but no clear trend is evident. Influenza remains geographically widespread in the state and activity is high in all regions.
The percentage of visits to emergency departments in New Jersey for ILI symptoms dropped for week 4 from 9.43 percent to 7.23 percent. It is the first drop in the ILI rate for the flu season that began Oct. 1. School absenteeism increased during the same week, however.
Laboratory testing shows a continued high level of both influenza and RSV in circulation. RSV infection symptoms resemble those of influenza. Laboratory testing is finding results nearly identical to the five year average for test results during the flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will release the week four influenza report on February 1. For week three, the national ILI visit rate was 4.3 percent. The CD reported two pediatric influenza deaths in New Jersey for the season. A report from NorthJersey.com on Jan. 24 indicates that the pediatric toll from influenza may be four.