MDCH Confirms First Michigan Case of Influenza for the 2007-2008 Flu Season

Contact: James McCurtis, Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

December 5, 2007

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) confirms that the illness occurred in a 9-year-old child from Marquette County and 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 and is recovering.

"We continue to expect to see cases of influenza this time of year," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. "Citizens are encouraged to seek out the flu vaccine and to practice good hygiene by washing their hands regularly and by taking other steps necessary to help stop the spread of influenza."

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.

Based on MDCH reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta will upgrade Michigan's flu activity to "sporadic", the lowest of four influenza activity categories the federal government tracks.

MDCH has a variety of enhanced systems such as a network of clinicians and hospital emergency departments throughout the state that report persons with flu-like illness, laboratories that refer positive test results for influenza, and school-based absenteeism reporting to detect influenza.

Sporadic flu cases are typically seen in Michigan this time each year. 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.

Every year in the United States:

- Five to 20 percent of the population gets the flu;

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

- Approximately 36,000 people die from flu.

Some people such as the elderly, pregnant women, young children, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications. Household members and caregivers of these individuals should also be vaccinated.

So far this year, state officials estimate that more than 3 million doses of flu vaccine have been shipped to Michigan. Health care providers should have ample supplies of vaccine and should continue to vaccinate citizens throughout the entire flu season. Citizens can call their physician, local health department, or the American Lung Association to find nearby influenza vaccination clinics.