The flu season in the United States has begun, with at least seven states reporting high levels of sickness and instances increasing in other regions of the country, according to health experts.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated flu statistics, which showed extremely high activity in Louisiana last week, as well as high activity in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, updated Mexico, and South Carolina. It was also high in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, where health officials declared an influenza outbreak earlier this month.
“We’re off to the races,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University.
The winter flu season often begins in December or January. However, it set off in October of last year and will arrive in November of this year.
In New York City, Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, flu activity was modest but increasing. While flu activity in Alaska has been high for weeks, the state did not disclose statistics last week, so it was not included in the most recent total.
During flu season, tracking is based in part on reports of patients with flu-like symptoms who visit doctors’ offices or hospitals; many people with the flu are not tested, so their illnesses are not lab-confirmed. COVID-19 and other respiratory infections can occasionally cloud the view.
Alicia Budd, the CDC’s flu monitoring team leader, stated that numerous indications suggest “continued increases” in flu.
There are many types of flu viruses, and the form that has been spreading the most this year generally results in fewer hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly – the population on whom flu has the greatest impact.
The CDC anticipates at least 780,000 flu infections, 8,000 hospitalizations, and 490 flu-related fatalities this autumn, including at least one child.
According to Budd, it is not yet obvious how effective the latest flu vaccinations are, but the doses are well-matched to the flu strains that are circulating. According to current CDC data, around 35% of US adults and 33% of US children have received flu vaccination. In both categories, this is a decrease from the previous year.
Flu vaccine rates outperform those of the other two major respiratory viruses, COVID-19 and RSV. Approximately 14% of adults and 5% of children have received the presently recommended COVID-19 vaccine, and approximately 13.5% of individuals 60 and older have received one of the RSV vaccines that became available earlier this year.