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Influenza is on the rise- Update on flu season 2019-2020

The Hawaii State Department of Health (HDOH) monitors influenza and other respiratory pathogens throughout the state of Hawaii. Influenza surveillance in the state of Hawaii relies upon selected sentinel health practitioners (our office is one of them!) , the State Laboratories Division (SLD), private laboratories, and the Office of Health Status Monitoring (OHSM). All data and information are conditional and may change as more reports are received

Nationwide during week 3 (October 2019), 5.0% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) were due to influenza-like illness (ILI). This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.4%. 

For week 2 of the current influenza season:

 • 4.7% (season to date: 2.6%) of the outpatient visits recorded by Hawaii sentinel providers were for ILI. 

• ILI visits were comparable to the historical baseline in Hawaii2,3 (i.e., inside the 95% confidence interval).

 • Hawaii’s ILI outpatient visits were higher than the national baseline (2.4%) 4 (i.e., outside the 95% confidence interval) and comparable to the national ILI rate (4.7%) (i.e., inside the 95% confidence interval).

 • ILI Cluster Activity: One new cluster was reported to HDOH during week 2. This cluster occurred at a longterm care facility on Oahu. This cluster contained cases of influenza A virus. 


• No influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported in Hawaii during the 2019–2020 season.

 • Nationally, seven influenza associated pediatric deaths occurring in weeks 52 (week ending December 28, 2019), 1 (week ending January 4, 2020), and 2 (week ending January 11, 2020) were reported to CDC during week 2. All seven were associated with influenza B viruses that did not have a lineage determined. (2019-2020 season total: 39). 


Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older and is the most effective way to reduce the risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. Influenza vaccination can reduce illnesses, visits to the doctor, influenza-related hospitalizations, and missed work and school days. Influenza vaccines become available by the end of October. It takes at least two weeks after vaccination to confer immunity against influenza virus infection. More information regarding influenza vaccination can be found (here)

Resource: https://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2018/03/FLU_Influenza_Surveillance.pdf 

Irene Papaconstadopoulos, MD FAAP

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