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Influenza in the United States

17 Jan 2013

The United States (US) has reported an increase in the circulation of influenza virus that began in December 2012, and has continued into the new year (2013). This is an earlier start (2 months) to the influenza season in the US compared with other years, excluding the pandemic in 2009-2010.

The media has reported high Influenza Like Illness (ILI) activity in 29 states of the US with Texas and New York City badly affected. CDC has recorded 'widespread' influenza in 41 states; this is the highest level in their surveillance system.

The predominant strain of virus this season has been influenza A (H3N2) followed by influenza B. There are four strains circulating at present, three of which are included in this seasons northern hemisphere influenza vaccine.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers considered to be at increased risk from influenza according to DH Risk Groups should ensure that they have received influenza vaccine from their GP.

Other travellers may wish to receive influenza vaccine on a private basis from their GP or local Travel Clinic.

Travellers should be aware of the high level of ILI activity in the US and that transmission is through close personal contact:

  • Hand washing is the most effective way of reducing transmission.
  • Awareness of 'respiratory etiquette' can reduce transmission i.e. use tissues when sneezing/coughing and dispose of used tissues correctly.
  • Stay at home until fever subsides; avoid the workplace and crowded public places.