Widespread Flu Activity In Michigan Continues: Number of Cases Statewide Begin Decreasing Slightly

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

March 4, 2005

Michigan’s influenza activity remains at widespread levels, but is lower than the previous week, meaning Michigan may have passed the peak of the 2004-05 flu season.

“Reporting for influenza-like illness remains elevated, but is slightly decreased from the previous week,” said Dr. Dean Sienko, acting state Chief Medical Executive. “Even though Michigan may have reached its peak for influenza activity, the disease is still very prevalent throughout the state. We encourage individuals to still exercise caution, seek influenza vaccine, and use preventative measures to avoid contracting influenza.”

As of February 26, the MDCH Bureau of Laboratories has confirmed influenza in 162 Michigan residents. Of these influenza cases confirmed in Lansing, 117 of them were type A – 104 of these are of the Fujian (H3N2) flu strain, which is covered in the vaccine – 13 A cases are still pending genotyping. The remaining 45 cases have been confirmed as Influenza type B – 28 are of the B/Shanghai strain, 12 are classified as B/Hong Kong, and five cases are still pending.

Sienko said the influenza vaccine available this season should provide good protection against nearly all of these viruses. Widespread is the highest level of flu activity as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Thirty-three states are reporting widespread levels of activity this week, while 15 states are reporting regional activity, and two states, along with the District of Columbia and New York City, are reporting local activity. Sienko said that 4.5 percent of all visits to influenza sentinel physicians around the state are for influenza-like illness – still higher than the national baseline of 2.5 percent, but lower than this season’s high of 8.2 percent. Regionally, influenza-like illness visits in southwestern Michigan (3 percent), central Michigan (5 percent), southeast Michigan (3 percent), and northern Michigan (5.1 percent), also decreased this week.

Over-the-counter sales of pediatric and adult cold and flu relief medications appear level for this week, and no confirmed influenza-associated deaths in previously well children have been reported to MDCH this season.

Each year, as many as 40,000 people, the vast majority being from the elderly population, die from complications of influenza in the United States. For more information on influenza, access www.michigan.gov/mdch.