THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Influenza activity rates began increasing in mid-December 2010, and influenza-related hospitalizations have been highest among very young children and the elderly, according to a report in the Feb. 18 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The report provides a summary of U.S. influenza activity starting Oct. 3, 2010. It reveals that influenza activity remained low in most regions of the United States from October through early December 2010. However, influenza activity increased during mid-December 2010 and continued rising during January and early February 2011. Similar to the 2007/2008 influenza season, rates of influenza-associated hospitalizations in the 2010/2011 influenza season have been highest in children aged 0 to 4 years and adults aged 65 years and older. In addition, since mid-January, the number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths has tripled.
The report also reveals that influenza B, 2009 influenza A (H1N1), and influenza A (H3N2) viruses were identified during the 2010/2011 influenza season, with most viruses in circulation closely related to strains included in the 2010/2011 influenza vaccine. Influenza A (H3N2) viruses have predominated this season.
"Health care providers should continue to offer vaccine to all unvaccinated persons aged ≥6 months throughout the influenza season and provide timely empiric antiviral treatment for patients who have severe, complicated, or progressive influenza illness, or who are at higher risk for influenza complications," the authors write.