CDC: Flu Season at Peak, Epidemic Levels

JANUARY 14, 2018
Jennifer Barrett
This year’s influenza season has reached epidemic levels, according to a recent CDC briefing on current US flu activity.  

In the briefing, CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, indicated that while influenza surveillance systems suggest that the flu season may be peaking in these recent weeks, it will likely take several more weeks before influenza activity slows down.

The CDC recently issued a health advisory warning about increasing cases of influenza in the United States, with numbers escalating above baseline in recent months.

So far this season, influenza A, H3N2 has been the most common form of influenza circulating. Out of the 47,689 specimens that tested positive for influenza, 82.9% were influenza A. In its most recent surveillance report, the CDC reported 22.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States and 20 pediatric deaths associated with influenza.

“Well, epidemic really just refers to an impact upon the people of an infectious disease,” Dr. Dan Jernigan, MD, MPH, Director of the influenza division in CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in the media briefing on Friday. “Each year in the United States we have an epidemic of flu, so clearly yes, this is an epidemic.”

“Flu seasons every year are bad so there’s never a mild flu season,” he added. He also noted that, although this season is on the more severe side, they still don’t know for sure where exactly it’s going to end up.

“Someday, of course, we hope to have a universal flu vaccine, one that attacks all influenza type viruses and provides protection that lasts for years,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. “But until that day arrives, we will continue to improve the vaccines that we have and find ways and tools to help Americans reduce their risk of getting sick.”


Transcript for CDC Update on Widespread Flu Activity [media statement]. CDC’s website.

Weekly US Influenza Surveillance Report. CDC's website.