Infectious Disease

Children bore brut of ‘early and intense’ flu season

January 23, 2023

1 min read

Source/Disclosures

Disclosures:
Please see the study for all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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Children were twice as likely as adults to test positive for influenza and more likely to be hospitalized for influenza this season, according to data published in MMWR.

Researchers from the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and Influenza Division, the Tennessee Department of Health and Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted a field investigation of what they described as “early and intense” influenza activity in 14 Tennessee counties in November 2022.

Data derived from Thomas CM, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7203a1.

According to the report, among 4,626 patients from participating outpatient clinics tested for influenza from Nov. 4-18, 47% were children. Children were more likely to receive a positive test result (33%) than adults (20%).

The authors found that seasonal influenza vaccine coverage was low among all patients tested for influenza, with vaccination rates of 23% among children and 34% among adults.

Among 238 surveyed respondents who received a positive test result within 48 hours of symptom onset, children were less likely to be treated with an influenza antiviral (41%) than adults (55%).

The researchers also found that children were hospitalized with influenza at rates that rivaled past high-severity influenza seasons, with the highest rate of 12.6 hospitalizations per 100,000 population reported among children aged younger than 5 years.

“As the influenza season continues, it is important for all persons, especially those at higher risk for severe disease, to protect themselves from influenza,” the researchers wrote. “To prevent influenza and severe influenza complications, all persons aged 6 months [or older] should get vaccinated, avoid contact with ill persons, and take influenza antivirals if recommended and prescribed.”

So far, six pediatric deaths due to influenza have been reported to the CDC this season. Influenza activity overall has been trending downward nationally for nearly 2 months, with few states still reporting high activity, according to CDC tracking.

References:

Thomas CM, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7203a1.

CDC. Weekly US influenza surveillance report (FluView). https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm. Published Jan 20, 2023. Accessed Jan 23, 2023.

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