Flu and other respiratory virus activity continues to ramp up across the US



Seventeen states, Washington, DC and New York City report high or very high respiratory illness during a flu season that hits harder and earlier than usual, according to data published Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu activity in the US continues to increase – the number of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths so far this season has nearly doubled in the past week. The CDC now estimates there have been at least 1.6 million illnesses, 13,000 hospitalizations and 730 deaths from the flu so far this season, including two reported deaths among children. About one in 11 tests for flu were positive last week.

It’s been over a decade — since the H1N1 swine flu pandemic — since flu hospitalization rates were so high at this point in the season. The latest CDC update keeps data until October 29.

Flu activity is highest in the South, followed by the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the West Coast. Data from Walgreens that tracks prescriptions for antiviral treatments — such as Tamiflu — suggests hot spots exist in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the Gulf Coast area, including Houston and New Orleans.

RSV hospitalizations were also significantly higher than normal, according to another weekly update published by the CDC on Thursday.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory infection that typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but it can cause serious illness, especially in older adults and infants.

Cumulative RSV hospitalization numbers have already reached levels not normally seen in the US until December. They are increasing among all age groups, but especially among children.

About four in 1,000 babies under 6 months of age have been hospitalized with RSV so far this season — about a month later. More than two in 1,000 babies between the ages of 6 months and a year have been hospitalized with RSV so far this season, as have more than one in 1,000 children between the ages of one and two.

Overall, in the US, nearly one in five PCR tests for RSV were positive for the week ending October 29, nearly doubling over the course of the month.

Weekly case counts are less complete for the most current weeks, but more RSV cases were detected by PCR testing each week in October 2022 than any other week in at least the past two years. The weekly number of cases for the week ending October 22 was more than double that of any other week in 2020 or 2021.

There are signs that RSV cases are slowing in the southern region of the US, but test positivity rates and cases continue to rise in other regions, especially the Midwest.

And children’s hospitals remain fuller than average with patients with RSV and other conditions. According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than three-quarters of children’s hospital beds and pediatric ICU beds are currently in use across the country, compared to an average of about two-thirds over the past two years.

As of Friday, 17 states have less than one in five beds available. Five of those are over 90% full: Rhode Island, Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, and Delaware, along with Washington, DC.

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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