Halfway through the season, flu has claimed the lives of 46 adults and one child in a single state
| The vast majority of those who have died have been 50 or older
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com – Ten more adults died from flu-related illnesses in Pennsylvania in the last week capping a period that’s been the peak flu season for the last two years.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released its weekly report tracking the number of confirmed flu cases in all 67 counties through Feb. 16. When a positive lab test is reported to the state, it’s logged as a confirmed flu case.
All regions of Pennsylvania reported an increase in flu activity in the last week, but the southwest and northwest portions of the state have been hardest hit. Thus far, there have been 37,808 laboratory-confirmed flu cases reported in all 67 counties. That is 7,216 new cases in the last week.
The state is still seeing widespread activity that is above epidemic threshold. In the last three weeks, the statewide flu rate has climbed from 194 cases per 100,000 people to 295 per 100,000 for the most current.
The flu season officially gears up at the start of October and lasts into May, but the illness typically peaks in winter months.
When looking at the flu rate across Pennsylvania’s counties, Northampton and Lehigh are among the hardest hit.
But, nationally, Pennsylvania is faring better than its neighbor to the east, New Jersey, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly flu report. That report lags a week behind Pa.’s health department reporting.
Right now, New Jersey is among 26 states to be considered at the highest flu activity level; a sharp jump from only six states a few weeks ago. Read more.
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2018/19 Influenza Season Data
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Department of Health monitors influenza activity throughout the year but ramps up surveillance activities in the fall and winter.
The official influenza surveillance season starts with the 40th week of the year (typically around the beginning of October) and ends on the 20th week of the following year (in May). For the 2018-2019 season, the influenza surveillance season began on Oct. 1, 2018, and will run through May 19, 2019.
Updated influenza activity data will be posted on this web page every Tuesday throughout the influenza surveillance season. These updates will provide a summary on:
- When and where influenza activity is occurring;
- Current trends in influenza as compared to previous seasons; and
- What types and subtypes of influenza viruses are currently circulating.
It is important to note that the influenza case counts presented on this page are restricted to only those cases that have had a positive laboratory test for flu (by rapid test, DFA, PCR or culture) reported to the PADOH.
These case counts represent only a fraction of the actual burden of illness due to influenza occurring in the commonwealth at any given time.
This is because most persons with influenza do not go to the doctor or are not tested or reported. Influenza spread and severity varies widely from season to season.
It is estimated that five to 20 percent (600,000 to 2,400,000) of Pennsylvanians get the flu each year, and 120 to 2,000 die from complications of influenza.
Flu Activity Code: WIDESPREAD (week 7 ending 2/16/2019)
*The flu activity code is a characterization of the geographic spread of influenza in Pennsylvania. It does not indicate how severe the influenza season is. Rather, it indicates how much of Pennsylvania is experiencing influenza activity. The level of activity is classified based on CDC definitions below, which are used by all 50 states to characterize influenza activity. Read more.