Seventeen states, Washington, D.C., and New York City are reporting high or very high respiratory illness activity in a flu season that is hitting harder and earlier than usual, it said. Data It was published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Influenza activity continues to rise in the U.S. — with flu cases, hospitalizations and deaths doubling in the past week. The CDC currently estimates at least 1.6 million illnesses, 13,000 hospitalizations, and 730 deaths from influenza, including two reported deaths in children so far this season. One in 11 tests for the flu was positive last week.
It’s been more than a decade — since the H1N1 swine flu pandemic — since flu hospitalizations have been so high this season. The latest CDC update tracks data through October 29.
Flu activity is highest in the South, followed by parts of the Mid-Atlantic and West Coast. Data from Walgreens, which tracks antiviral treatments like Tamiflu, suggests there are hot spots in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the Bay Area, including Houston and New Orleans.
On another weekly basis, RSV hospitalizations were also much higher than usual. Update Published by the CDC on Thursday.
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory infection that typically causes mild, flu-like symptoms, but can be particularly severe in the elderly and infants.
Cumulative RSV hospitalization rates in the US have reached levels not typically seen until December. They are increasing in all age groups, but especially among children.
Four out of 1,000 children under the age of 6 months this season – four out of 1,000 children were hospitalized with RSV in just one month. More than one in 1,000 children between the ages of one and two.
In the US as a whole, nearly one in five PCR RSV tests were positive for the week ending Oct. 29, doubling during the month.
Weekly case counts are not complete for the most recent weeks, but more RSV cases were detected each week by PCR tests in October 2022 than in any week in at least the previous two years. The weekly case counts for the week ending October 22 were twice as high as any week in 2020 or 2021.
There are signs that RSV cases are declining in the southern region of the US, but positivity rates and cases continue to rise in other regions, particularly in the Midwest.
And children’s hospitals remain fuller than average with patients with RSV and other conditions. According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than three-quarters of pediatric hospital beds and pediatric ICU beds are currently in use nationwide, compared to an average of two-thirds over the past two years.
As of Friday, seventeen states have fewer than one in five beds. Five of these are more than 90% full: Rhode Island, Arizona, Maine, Minnesota and Delaware, along with Washington, DC.