New data show that this wave of the pandemic H1N1 influenza outbreak is continuing to decline, although experts worry about what the arrival of the regular flu season after the start of the year will bring.
Cases of influenza-like illness, generally assumed to be mostly swine flu, continued to decline on college campuses in the week ending Dec. 11. The actual number of cases was a very low 815, with three hospitalizations, a small number because many campuses are entering their winter break period. The attack rate was 3.4 cases per 10,000 students, a 35% decline from the week before, according to the American College Health Assn. Overall, only about 7% of students have been vaccinated, but some areas report rates reaching 20%, suggesting that vaccine availability is increasing.
Prescriptions for the antiviral drugs used to treat swine flu victims, primarily Tamiflu, have also dropped sharply, according to Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions of Bridgewater, N.J., which also tracks sales of the drugs for the Food and Drug Administration. For the week ending Dec. 4, filled prescriptions declined 11.5% to 127,452, according to the company. But that is a dramatic 69% decrease from the 472,415 filled in the week ending Nov. 6. In California, 7,902 prescriptions were filled in the week ending Nov. 27, the most recent week for which data are available. That represents a 39% drop from the 12,924 prescriptions filled in the week ending Nov. 13 at the peak of this wave.
-- Thomas H. Maugh II