Flu activity still high, but might be tapering off

The number of flu cases in the state is still rising and has reached more than 3,750 for the season, according to the latest data from the state Department of Health. However, the percentage of total hospital emergency rooms visits attributed to flu has declined, as has the percentage of outpatient visits by those with “influenza-like” illness.

This remains a bumper flu season, both statewide and nationwide, with the current number of flu cases more than triple the total number of cases from last season. Fairfield County has seen the largest number of cases this season, at 1,035. New Haven County is next, with 828 cases and Hartford County is close behind, with 761.

More than 1,500 people have been hospitalized for influenza-associated illness this year, and 23 people in the state have died from the contagious respiratory illness. Of those, 19 deaths were among those older than 65, and the remainder were among those between the ages of 55 and 64.

But there might be signs that we’re headed toward a decline in the flu season. This week, about 10 percent of total emergency department visits were attributed to the “fever/flu syndrome” — down from 12.4 percent last week. The percentage of outpatient visits by those with influenza-like illness — which had been 4.6 percent the past two weeks — recently dipped to 3.4 percent.

The number of those admitted to hospitals with pneumonia has also continued to decline. Experts have said that a decline in pneumonia cases could mean flu cases might soon be declining.

Amanda Cuda