As flu hospitalizations surge in the U.S., the Southeast is the hardest hit

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Enbal Sabag, a nursing specialist, prepares a flu vaccination for a patient at the CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic on September 3, 2020 in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Flu hospitalizations in the US have reached a decade high, with the Southeast currently the hardest region.

Five in 100,000 people in the U.S. were hospitalized with the flu in the week ending Nov. 5, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the highest number of hospitalizations this early in the flu season since 2010, more than 10 years ago.

But the percentage of patients reporting flu-like symptoms, a fever of 100 degrees or more plus a sore throat or cough, is highest in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington DC, according to CDC- data.

Flu activity is also very high in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York City and Texas, according to the CDC.

More than 6,400 people were hospitalized with the flu in the week ending Nov. 5, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Approximately 54% of these patients were hospitalized in the southeastern and south-central US

Just over 2,000 people were hospitalized with the flu in the region that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. More than 1,400 were hospitalized in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

In the Southeast, the influenza A H3N2 strain currently appears to be the most common, according to Dr. Jose Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This strain is associated with more serious illnesses in the elderly and young children, Romero said.

“There are also early signs of flu causing serious illness this season in exactly these two groups of individuals,” Romero told reporters on a phone call earlier this month.

Nearly 11 in 100,000 seniors were hospitalized with the flu in the week ending Nov. 5, while about 10 in 100,000 children under age 5 were hospitalized, according to data from the CDC. Hospitalization rates for these age groups are about double the national rate.

So far this season, according to CDC, at least 2.8 million people have fallen ill with the flu, 23,000 have been hospitalized, and 1,300 people have died from the virus.

Why everyone seems to get sick

Hospitals across the US are inundated with a wave of patients, especially children, sick with the flu or respiratory syncytial virus. Romero said these viruses are likely on the rise because immunity declined as pandemic-era public health measures crushed transmission of these viruses. May children therefore become infected for the first time.

Public health officials also expect another wave of Covid infection this winter. The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and the White House have called on everyone who qualifies to get a flu shot and a Covid booster before the holidays.

CNBC Health and Science

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The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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