(NEXSTAR) – The 2022 flu season is off to an early and nasty start, especially in the South, according to a watchdog. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC has seven states, plus Washington, D.C., the highest category for flu activity, shown in purple on the map below. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia are all classified as “very high.”

It’s not much better in Maryland and Texas, both of which are in the second-worst category (brown on the CDC map).

Behind them are five more states in Auburn: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and New Mexico.

CDC tracking shows where flu rates are highest in the country. (Map: CDC)

The rate of influenza hospitalizations has not been this high this early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the CDC said. To date, there have been an estimated 1,300 flu deaths, including at least three children.

The activity increased last month. In less than three weeksNo states were in the “very high” categories.

All of these flu outbreaks are earlier than usual – the winter flu season usually peaks in December or January.

Things look better up north; The Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest and New England all have states in the “low” category for flu activity.

The CDC map is not based on confirmed flu laboratory tests, but instead tracks the ways people go to the doctor with flu-like symptoms (respiratory aches and fever, as well as cough or sore throat). As a result, the map “may capture patient visits due to other respiratory pathogens that cause similar symptoms,” the agency explains.

Flu season is on the rise in children’s hospitals at the same time. Attacks of young patients with respiratory syncytial virus are shaking.or RSV. CDC surveillance It shows RSV cases since September.

There may be some good news: Covid-19 cases have been trending downward and leveling off over the past three weeks, said Dr. Jose Romero of the CDC.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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