The New York State Health Department released its latest report on the influenza epidemic in the state on Jan. 25, for the week ending Jan. 19. The total number of confirmed influenza cases in a flu season has reached its highest point in this century, with 28,754 confirmed cases since Oct. 1. This exceeds the total from the pandemic flu season of 2009-2010 which had 25,082 confirmed cases.
Outside of New York City, the week saw the recent trend of declining illnesses reversed in much of the state. Healthcare providers saw the rate of visits due to influenza-like illnesses (ILI) increase to 4.39 percent from just over 3.5 percent in the prior week. Visits to emergency departments for ILI symptoms increased for the week in all regions except Long Island and the Capital region. Those two areas saw a slower continued decline in ILI rates.
Statewide, including New York City, the number of people hospitalized for influenza or flu complications continued to grow. Through Jan. 19, 5,348 patients had been diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed influenza since the flu season began. In healthcare settings, 67 hospitals and nursing homes reported flu outbreaks for the week and there have been 377 reported for the season.
Four pediatric deaths have been reported in the state due to influenza infections or complications. The latest was reported in week 3 of 2013, ending Jan. 19. In the pandemic flu season, 18 children died from the flu and 17 the year before. Last year there was just one pediatric flu death in New York.
New York City has not released its report for the week. Graphics from its health department website show that the daily number of visits to emergency departments in the city for ILI declined slightly, with just over 450 visits per day on average. ILI rates for all ages declined slightly as well. In children age four and under, 20 percent of emergency department visits were for an ILI. That age group is experiencing influenza-like illnesses at rates nearly double those of any other age group.