Flu-related outpatient activity dropped for the second week in a row as the cumulative hospitalization rate continues to rise, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the week ending Feb. 17, the proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 6.4%, which was down from 7.4% the previous week (Feb. 10) and down from the seasonal high of 7.5% set 2 weeks earlier, the CDC said in its weekly flu surveillance report. The rate for the week ending Feb. 10 was reported last week as 7.5%, but it has been revised downward.

The cumulative ILI hospitalization rate for the week ending Feb. 17 was 74.5 per 100,000 population, which puts the 2017-2018 season a good bit ahead of the 54.5 per 100,000 recorded for the equivalent week of the 2014-2015 season, CDC data show. That season had a record-setting 710,000 hospitalizations, but that information is not yet available for the current season.

State reports of ILI activity support the decreases seen in the national outpatient rate. There were 33 states at level 10 on the CDC’s 1-10 scale for the week ending Feb. 17 – down from 39 the week before – and a total of 41 states in the “high” range from levels 8-10, compared with 45 the previous week, CDC’s FluView website shows.

Reports of flu-related pediatric deaths continued: 13 deaths were reported during the week, although 9 occurred in previous weeks. The total for the 2017-2018 season is now 97. There were 110 pediatric deaths in the entire 2016-2017 season, 93 during the 2015-2016 season, and 149 in 2014-2015, the CDC said.

rfranki@frontlinemedcom.com

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