MDCH Reports First Influenza Case Of 2006-07 Season

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

November 17, 2006

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has confirmed a case of influenza in the state, the first of the 2006-2007 Michigan flu season.

The case of influenza - in an 18-month old toddler from Oakland County - has been confirmed as Influenza B, according to officials at the state's public health laboratory in Lansing. The child was not hospitalized as a result of the illness.

"Each year, we expect to see influenza cases appear at this time of year, and 2006 is certainly no different," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. "We continue to encourage citizens to seek out the influenza vaccine - as it is the best way to prevent contracting seasonal influenza."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is expected to upgrade Michigan flu activity to "sporadic" for next week's report, the lowest level of influenza activity the federal government tracks.

MDCH has several systems in place to detect influenza, including a network of clinicians and hospital emergency departments throughout the state which report persons with flu-like illness, laboratories that report positive test results for influenza, and school-based absenteeism reports.

Sporadic flu cases are often seen in Michigan during November and activity often begins to increase thereafter. Activity typically peaks in late January through February, but can sometimes peak earlier or later, depending on the strain of flu and severity of the season.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

Every year in the United States, on average:

· 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;

· More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;

· About 36,000 people die from flu.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

So far this year, state officials estimate that nearly 2.4 million doses of flu vaccine have been shipped to Michigan. Health care providers should have ample supplies of vaccine by Thanksgiving and should continue to vaccinate citizens throughout the entire flu season.