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Estimating the Incidence of Influenza at the State Level - Utah, 2016-17 and 2017-18 Influenza Seasons.

Abstract

The 2017-18 U.S. influenza season was notable for its high severity, with approximately 45 million illnesses and 810,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations throughout the United States (1). The purpose of the investigation reported here was to create a state-level estimate of the number of persons in Utah who became ill with influenza disease during this severe national seasonal influenza epidemic and to create a sustainable system for making timely updates in future influenza seasons. Knowing the extent of influenza-associated illness can help public health officials, policymakers, and clinicians tailor influenza messaging, planning, and responses for seasonal influenza epidemics or during pandemics. Using national methods and existing influenza surveillance and testing data, the influenza burden (number of influenza illnesses, medical visits for influenza, and influenza-associated hospitalizations) in Utah during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 influenza seasons was estimated. During the 2016-17 season, an estimated 265,000 symptomatic illnesses affecting 9% of Utah residents occurred, resulting in 125,000 medically attended illnesses and 2,700 hospitalizations. During the 2017-18 season, an estimated 338,000 symptomatic illnesses affecting 11% of Utah residents occurred, resulting in 160,000 medically attended illnesses and 3,900 hospitalizations. Other state or county health departments could adapt similar methods in their jurisdictions to estimate the burden of influenza locally and support prompt public health activities.

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