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OFFICIAL SLACKNESS? Puerto Rico Reporting High Levels of ARI Flu, But V.I. Fails To Report To CDC At All

juan figueroa serville

MUM’S THE WORD: Juan Figueroa-Serville



ATLANTA – The Virgin Islands government is the only state, territory or commonwealth in the United States not to report its flu statistics to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

Nearby Puerto Rico is reporting high levels of a particular kind of Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) to the CDC, but whether the territory is experiencing a similar problem, the Virgin Islands Department of Health is not officially saying.

Repeated attempts to reach V.I. Health Commissioner Juan Figueroa-Serville for comment on his department’s failure to report the flu statistics were not successful.

According to this week’s Fluview report from the CDC, flu activity increased slightly in the United States.

There are localized pockets of high activity in parts of the country and the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for flu in clinical laboratories continues to increase.



H1N1 viruses are most common at this time. This H1N1 virus emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic. Seasonal flu vaccines have included the H1N1 pandemic virus since 2010. CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. If you have not gotten vaccinated yet this season, you should get vaccinated now.

For the week ending February 6, the proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased from 2.2% to 2.4%, which is above the national baseline (2.1%). Seven of 10 regions (Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10) reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline levels. One way that CDC measures the length of the influenza season is the number of consecutive weeks during which ILI is at or above the national baseline.

Puerto Rico and one state (Arizona) experienced high ILI activity. Two states (Arkansas and Connecticut) experienced moderate ILI activity. New York City and 8 states (Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Utah) experienced low ILI activity. 38 states experienced minimal ILI activity. The District of Columbia and one state (Colorado) did not have sufficient data to calculate an activity level. ILI activity data indicate the amount of flu-like illness that is occurring in each state.

Widespread flu activity was reported by Puerto Rico and seven states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New York). Regional flu activity was reported by Guam and 17 states (Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington). 16 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) reported local influenza activity. The District of Columbia and 9 states (Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia) reported sporadic influenza activity. No flu activity was reported by one state (Mississippi). The U.S. Virgin Islands did not report. Geographic spread data show how many areas within a state or territory are seeing flu activity.

Since October 1, 2015, 896 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported through FluSurv-NET, a population-based surveillance network for laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations. This translates to a cumulative overall rate of 3.2 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States. More data on hospitalization rates, including hospitalization rates during other influenza seasons, are available at http://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/Fluview/FluHospRates.html and http://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/FluHospChars.html. ◦The highest hospitalization rates are among people 65 years and older (10.2 per 100,000), followed by children younger than 5 years (4.5 per 100,000), and adults 50-64 years (4.1 per 100,000). During most seasons, children younger than 5 years and adults 65 years and older have the highest hospitalization rates. FluSurv-NET hospitalization data are collected from 13 states and represent approximately 8.5% of the total U.S. population. The number of hospitalizations reported does not reflect the actual total number of influenza-associated hospitalizations in the United States.
The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in both the NCHS Mortality Surveillance System and the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System.

Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during the week ending February 6. ◦One death was associated with an influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 virus and one death was associated with an influenza A virus for which no subtyping was performed. Both deaths occurred during week 4 (the week ending January 30, 2016). A total of 11 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported during the 2015-2016 season.

Nationally, the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in clinical laboratories during the week ending February 6 was 9.1%. For the most recent three weeks, the regional percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in clinical laboratories ranged from 1.5% to 12.2%. During the week ending February 6, of the 1,563 influenza-positive tests reported to CDC by clinical laboratories, 1,135 (72.6%) were influenza A viruses and 428 (27.4%) were influenza B viruses.

The most frequently identified influenza virus type reported by public health laboratories during the week ending February 6 was influenza A viruses, with influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 viruses predominating. During the week ending February 6, 325 (73.4%) of the 443 influenza-positive tests reported to CDC by public health laboratories were influenza A viruses and 118 (26.6%) were influenza B viruses. Of the 297 influenza A viruses that were subtyped, 42 (14.1%) were H3 viruses and 255 (85.9%) were (H1N1)pdm09 viruses. Cumulatively from October 4, 2015-February 6, 2016, influenza A (H3) viruses were predominant in one of the four age groups (45.7% in ages 65 years and older). Influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 viruses were predominant in the 0-4 years age group (63.0%), 5-24 years age group (38.8%), and in the 25-64 years age group (64.1%).

The CDC has characterized 483 specimens (180 influenza A (H1N1)pdm09, 216 influenza A (H3N2) and 87 influenza B viruses) collected in the U.S. since October 1, 2015. All 180 (100%) influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 viruses were antigenically characterized as similar to A/California/7/2009, the influenza A (H1N1) component of the 2015-2016 Northern Hemisphere vaccine. All 216 H3N2 viruses were genetically sequenced and all viruses belonged to genetic groups for which a majority of viruses antigenically characterized were similar to cell-propagated A/Switzerland/9715293/2013, the influenza A (H3N2) component of the 2015-2016 Northern Hemisphere vaccine. ◾A subset of 105 H3N2 viruses also were antigenically characterized; 98 of 105 (93.3%) H3N2 viruses were similar to A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 by HI testing or neutralization testing. All 52 (100%) of the B/Yamagata-lineage viruses were antigenically characterized as similar to B/Phuket/3073/2013, which is included in both the 2015–16 Northern Hemisphere trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines. All 35 (100%) of the B/Victoria-lineage viruses were antigenically characterized as similar to B/Brisbane/60/2008, which is included in the 2015-16 Northern Hemisphere quadrivalent vaccine.

Since October 1, 2015, CDC has tested 301 influenza A (H1N1)pdm09, 246 influenza A (H3N2), and 152 influenza B viruses for resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitors antiviral drugs. While the vast majority of the viruses that have been tested are sensitive to oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir, so far this season, 2 (0.7%) influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 viruses have showed resistance to oseltamivir and peramivir (but both were sensitive to zanamivir).

mapp as walrus 1

NOT REPORTING TO CDC: Gov. Mapp

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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