The United States is currently experiencing its flu season, with several states reporting a surge in illnesses and a rise in cases across the country, according to health officials.
Flu Activity Levels
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on Friday, highlighting the considerable flu activity in various areas. Louisiana recorded extremely high activity last week, while Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Carolina reported high activity. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, also had high levels of flu activity, with health officials declaring an influenza epidemic in Puerto Rico earlier this month.
Early Start to the Season
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert from Vanderbilt University, stated, “We’re off to the races,” acknowledging that the flu season usually starts to intensify in December or January. However, last year it began in October, and this year it has made its entrance in November.
Moderate But Rising Activity
Flu activity was categorized as moderate but steadily increasing in several states, including New York City, Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Note on Alaska
While Alaska has been experiencing high flu activity for weeks, it did not report any data last week, so it was not included in the latest count.
Tracking the flu during the season relies on reports of individuals with flu-like symptoms who seek medical attention. However, not everyone with the flu undergoes testing for confirmation. This means that many infections go unconfirmed in lab tests. Additionally, the presence of other respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 can complicate the analysis.
Stay informed and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and others during this flu season.
Influenza Cases Continue to Rise: CDC
Alicia Budd, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s flu surveillance team, has reported a surge in flu cases through various indicators.
Different strains of the flu virus are circulating this year, with the most prevalent strain typically resulting in fewer hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly, who are most vulnerable to the flu.
Since the beginning of the fall season, the CDC estimates that there have been at least 780,000 flu illnesses, with over 8,000 hospitalizations and 490 flu-related deaths, including the unfortunate loss of a child’s life.
While it is still uncertain how effective the current flu vaccines are, Budd reassures that they are well-matched to the strains currently circulating. However, the vaccination rates have decreased compared to last year. Currently, only approximately 35% of U.S. adults and 33% of children have received their flu shots.
Interestingly, the flu vaccination rates are higher compared to those for other respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 and RSV. The current data indicates that only around 14% of adults and 5% of children have received the recommended COVID-19 vaccine, while approximately 13.5% of adults aged 60 and older have received any of the available RSV shots introduced earlier this year.