While most of the country are reporting greater than baseline numbers of Influenza-Like Illnesses (ILI), two states saw minimal activity. These statistics are based on provider reports, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies and releases to the general public weekly. Those two states with minimal activity were Montana and Maine.
Two Underserved States in Crisis
With a severe shortage of doctors in Florida and Texas, it’s unfortunate that those two states are in the highest end of the spectrum, and equally unfortunate is the fact that both states do not recognize FNP autonomy. Even so, graduates who hold a family nurse practitioner MSN degree from advanced nursing colleges such as Bradley University are able to prescribe under a collaborating MD. The importance of this during flu season is highlighted by the fact that Texas is at the highest end of the outbreak spectrum and Florida’s ratio isn’t far behind. FNPs can serve as primary providers in both states, but some of their duties (i.e. prescribing medications) are restricted.
Three States Reporting Low Activity
Slightly behind Montana and Maine are Washington State, Hawaii, and Idaho, all of which reported low ILI activity in February. Moderately low reports of ILI activity are coming out of Utah with the rest of the nation reporting higher than baseline activity. The national baseline is set at 2.2% but the national average in February 2018 was averaging around 7.5%. This year’s flu season is statistically similar to last year’s reports of flu with the same strains being reported around the nation. Similar in type and numbers, there is little difference on a national level.
Assorted Statistics Released by the CDC
While the very young and very old are hit hardest during any outbreak of Influenza-Like Illnesses, there will be some portions of the population which will also see higher mortality rates. One of the reasons why primary and family care providers are becoming increasingly important is the lack of attending physicians. When a patient is suffering from the flu, it can easily lead to pneumonia, which ultimately can be the cause of death. Deaths reported in relation to ILI were five in the week ending February 3 and six in the week ending February 10.
Shortage of Providers at Crisis Levels
With a growing awareness of underserved populations, universities like Bradley University Online are graduating record numbers of family nurse practitioners. As more and more states begin recognizing autonomy in nurse practitioners, nurses are being encouraged to advance their degrees. Flu season is only one concern in the state of healthcare in the US, but of greater concern is a growing population as people are living longer and an even greater number of older Americans requiring geriatric care. The CDC updates statistics throughout flu season in an effort to help avert regional and national epidemics. For weekly updates, you can view the outbreak map on the CDC website.