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CDC: Most flu indicators below baselines

Pandemic flu activity remained at uncharacteristically low levels for week 10 of the season, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its most recent update, though the virus is still circulating amid anecdotal reports of increased activity in a few southern locations.

For the week ending Mar 13, most flu barometers stayed the same as the previous week. Deaths from pneumonia and flu dipped below the seasonal baseline for the first time in several weeks, while visits to doctors' offices for flu-like illnesses remained below the national baseline, according to the CDC's Mar 19 update. Lab-confirmed pandemic flu hospitalizations have leveled off, and the CDC said it received very few reports during week 10 of the current flu season.

As with the previous 9 weeks, no states reported widespread activity. The number of states reporting regional activity dropped from five to three: Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Flu-related doctors' visits were above regional baseline in only one CDC surveillance region, the southeast.

Local flu activity was reported by Puerto Rico and eight states: Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Hospital officials in the Houston area have noted a small but steady increase in pandemic flu cases, the Houston Chronicle reported on Mar 19. Authorities at Texas Children's Hospital are reporting slight increases in the number of confirmed pandemic H1N1 cases over the past few weeks, along with a "small bump" in hospital admissions.

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