Michigan Flu Activity Still At Widespread Levels

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

February 17, 2005

Michigan’s flu season is in full swing, with health care providers seeing a 25 percent increase in the number of doctor visits related to influenza-like illness, state health officials said today.

“Activity continues to increase statewide,” said Dr. Dean Sienko, acting state Chief Medical Executive. “Michigan’s disease surveillance system has registered a 25 percent increase in flu-like illness reported over the past week, which means that our state is in the heart of the flu season.”

The Michigan Department of Community Health’s Bureau of Laboratories has confirmed influenza in138 Michigan residents. Of these influenza cases confirmed in Lansing, 104 of themwere type A. The remaining 34 cases have been confirmed as Influenza type B.

Sienko said theinfluenza vaccine available this season should still provide good protection against nearly all of these viruses. Michigan’s flu activity is still defined as widespread, the highest level of flu activity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Sienko said that 7.2 percent of all visits to influenza sentinel physicians around the state are for influenza-like illness – almost four times higher than the national baseline of 2.5 percent, and more than double the activity levels Michigan experienced last week.

Regionally, influenza-like illness visits to health care providers in southwestern Michigan (10 percent), central Michigan (8.6 percent), southeast Michigan (4.4 percent), and northern Michigan (5.0 percent), also increased dramatically.

Each year, as many as 40,000 people, especially the elderly, in the United States die from complications of influenza. However, for the vast majority of people, influenza is unpleasant, but not serious or life threatening. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year.

Certain people are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu. This group includes people age 65 years and older and people of any age with chronic medical conditions. Pregnant women and children between 6 months and 23 months of age also are at increased risk from flu complications.

For more information on influenza, access www.michigan.gov/mdch.