Influenza and other respiratory virus activity continues to increase across the US

Influenza and other respiratory virus activity continues to increase across the US


Seventeen states, Washington, D.C. and New York City are reporting high or very high respiratory disease activity in the midst of a flu season that is hitting harder and earlier than usual, according to data the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday.

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

It’s been more than a decade—since the H1N1 swine flu pandemic—since flu hospitalization rates have been this high at this point in the season. The latest CDC update tracks data through 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 there are hotspots in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the Gulf Coast region, including Houston and New Orleans.

Hospitalizations due to RSV were also significantly higher than usual, according to the second week Update the CDC announced Thursday.

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

Cumulative rates of RSV hospitalizations have already reached levels not typically seen until December in the US. They are growing among all age groups, especially among children.

About four out of every 1,000 babies under 6 months old have been hospitalized with RSV so far this season – just about a month later. More than two in every 1,000 babies between 6 months and one year old have been hospitalized with RSV so far this season, as have more than one in every 1,000 children aged one to two years.

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

Weekly case numbers are less complete for the most recent weeks, but there were more RSV cases detected by PCR tests each week in October 2022 than any other week in at least the last 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 rates of positive tests and cases continue to rise in other regions, particularly in the Midwest.

Pediatric hospitals remain fuller than average with patients with RSV and other conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than three-quarters of pediatric hospital beds and pediatric intensive care beds are currently being used nationwide, compared to an average of about two-thirds occupancy over the past two years.

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


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