Fewer flu vaccines have been administered this season compared to last year, but influenza cases continue to drop in recent weeks, according to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The percentage of outpatient visits due to respiratory illness decreased nationally again this week and is now below the baseline,” the most recent CDC FluView report says.
Only 1.7% of the 57,889 samples tested for flu in laboratories throughout the country turned up positive, suggesting that other respiratory illnesses are more dominant. Mortality due to pneumonia remains above typical levels.
So far, this season the majority of flu viruses detected are influenza A(H3N2) with influenza B making up just 3% of cases. Most viruses identified so far are genetically closely related to the vaccine virus. Some viruses show antigenic changes that emerged as H3N2 viruses have continued to evolve, the report says.
Flu levels throughout most of the country are low with the exception. of New Mexico, North Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
The government agency estimates that so far this season there have been at least 2.1 million flu illnesses, 21,000 hospitalizations, and 1,200 deaths attributed to influenza.
Overall, it has been a quiet flu season and it appears as if it is already starting to wind down.
Fewer flu vaccines
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