According to health officials, the flu is on the rise in several states and increasing in others.
According to health officials, the flu season has begun in the United States and at least seven states have reported a high number of illnesses, with cases also increasing in other areas of the country.
The latest flu statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed high levels of activity last week in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Carolina. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, also reported high flu activity, with officials declaring an influenza epidemic earlier in the month.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, declared that “we are ready to begin” or “we are starting” as in a race.
Typically, the onset of the winter flu season occurs in December or January. However, it began in October last year and is starting in November this year.
Flu levels were moderate but increasing in New York City, Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Alaska has had high flu levels for several weeks, but no data was reported from the state last week, therefore it was not included in the most recent tally.
Monitoring during the flu season depends on information from individuals who exhibit symptoms similar to the flu and seek medical attention at clinics or hospitals. However, numerous individuals with the flu do not undergo testing, resulting in unconfirmed cases. The presence of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses can further complicate the situation.
Alicia Budd, the head of the CDC’s team monitoring flu cases, stated that multiple signs are pointing to a consistent rise in flu occurrences.
There are various types of influenza viruses, and the strain that has been most prevalent this year typically results in lower hospitalizations and fatalities among the elderly, who are often most affected by the flu.
As of now, the CDC has recorded approximately 780,000 cases of flu, 8,000 hospitalizations, and 490 deaths related to the flu this fall. One of the deaths was a child.
According to Budd, the effectiveness of current flu vaccines is still uncertain. However, the vaccines are well-suited to the strains of flu that are currently circulating. The latest data from the CDC shows that approximately 35% of American adults and 33% of children have received flu vaccinations. This is a decrease from last year for both age groups.
The percentage of individuals who have received the flu vaccine is higher compared to those who have received the COVID-19 and RSV vaccines. Roughly 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 one of the available RSV vaccines.