CDC Urges Enhanced Influenza Surveillance During Summer to Detect Rare H5N1 Cases

May 23, 2024
CDC Principal Deputy Director Nirav D. Shah recommends maintaining heightened vigilance and increasing influenza A virus subtyping to detect rare cases of human H5N1 infection.

On May 21, in a meeting with public health partners, CDC Principal Deputy Director Nirav D. Shah laid out the agency’s recommendations that influenza surveillance systems continue operating at enhanced levels during the summer and to increase the number of positive influenza A virus samples submitted for subtyping to help detect even rare cases of human H5N1 virus infection in the community.

CDC Influenza Division Director Vivien Dugan joined leaders and members from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) on the call.

Shah emphasized the importance of remaining vigilant and outlined a nationwide influenza virus monitoring plan for the summer season, which is a time when influenza activity and testing typically decline. The goal of this plan is to maintain heightened awareness of circulating influenza viruses given the ongoing outbreak of H5N1 among poultry and U.S. dairy cattle.

Specifically, Shah asked jurisdictions to work with clinical laboratories to increase submissions of positive influenza virus samples to public health laboratories for subtyping. Subtyping is a process that determines whether the influenza A sample is a common, seasonal influenza virus or a novel virus like H5N1.

CDC is committed to supporting state and local public health officials and will continue to provide information to support their H5N1 influenza response efforts.