1/19/18: All U.S. states but Hawaii are reporting widespread flu activity. CDC also is reporting an additional 7 flu-related pediatric deaths, bringing the total number of flu-related pediatric deaths to 20, nationwide so far. CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination for all persons 6 months of age and older as flu viruses are likely to continue circulating for weeks.
The highest hospitalization rates are among people 65 years and older, followed by adults aged 50-64 years, and children younger than 5 years (16.0 per 100,000).
During the week ending January 6, influenza-positive tests reported to CDC by public health laboratories were influenza A viruses and influenza B viruses. Of the influenza A viruses that were subtyped, 88.6% were H3N2 viruses.
The majority of the influenza viruses collected from the United States during October 1, 2017 through January 6, 2018 were characterized antigenically and genetically as being similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2017–18 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine viruses, meaning the flu vaccine is helpful, and the majority of the tested viruses showed susceptibility to the antiviral drugs.
US CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the top three or four flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Medical providers should be vaccinated and begin vaccinating patients soon after flu vaccine becomes available to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.
Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout the flu season.
US CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine in healthy children ages 2 to 8 when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children age 2 to 8 years should get the flu shot. Don't delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine.
Visiting the Hospital
Amid a spike in illnesses, including the flu throughout the region, Franklin Memorial Hospital is asking anyone who feels sick or has a fever, sore throat, or cough to avoid visiting the hospital.
This is an important step to protect the hospital’s most vulnerable patients and newborns. Neither should have any unnecessary exposure to people with respiratory or other contagious illnesses. All hospital visitors must be feeling well and wash their hands before and after entering any unit.
For the safety of the babies on the Franklin Memorial Hospital Maternal and Child Health Unit, no children under the age of 12 are allowed on the unit this flu season, unless they are healthy siblings.
Influenza activity in Maine is widespread with laboratory confirmed influenza reported in all 16 counties. Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) has confirmed Influenza A/H1N1, influenza A/H3, and influenza B/Yamagata in Maine indicating most strains are circulating.