HEALTH

Influenza and other respiratory virus activity continues to increase across the United States



CNN

Government health officials on Friday warned of an early and serious start to the cold and flu season in the United States, and are closely monitoring hospital capacity and medical supplies, ready to send aid if needed. said that

Dr. Jose Romero, National Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: He said vaccinations and respiratory illnesses were on the phone with reporters.

Across the United States, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza cases are on the rise. At the same time, Covid-19 cases, which had been declining, appear to have leveled off over the past three weeks, Romero said. Cases are leveling off as it gains momentum against the Omicron variant.

The surge in viral diseases is already beginning to strain hospitals.

Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said Friday her agency is in close contact with the health care system and the state.

“We are sharing best practices for reducing strain on the system and monitoring standby capacity across the country to deploy additional personnel and supplies as needed,” she said. said, noting that so far no state has requested this assistance.

“We are definitely going to face some challenges this winter,” said O’Connell.

Data released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed high respiratory disease activity in 17 states in Washington, D.C. and New York City amid flu season hitting harder and earlier than usual. or reported to be very high.

Flu activity continues to rise in the United States, with the number of influenza illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths so far this season nearly doubling in the past week. The CDC now estimates that there have been at least 1.6 million illnesses, 13,000 hospitalizations and 730 deaths from influenza. Last week, he had one positive in about 11 flu tests.

“Influenza hospitalization rates are actually at their highest in the last decade,” Romero said.

The last time flu hospitalizations were this high at this point in the season was during the H1N1 pandemic. His latest CDC update tracks data through October 29th.

There is no real mystery as to why viral diseases are on the rise, says Dr. Michael Mina, epidemiologist and chief scientific officer at eMed.

“We had the advantage of not having had the flu in the last few years, mainly due to SARS-CoV-2. As we release the pressure placed on us to keep the virus at bay and move into this first real flu season, we are unfortunately feeling the effects,” he said. rice field.

RSV cases are increasing nationwide, although there are regional variations in the circulation of these viruses, Romero said. It is a common respiratory infection that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms, but can cause serious illness, especially in the elderly and infants.

In the South and Mountain West, RSV cases appear to have peaked in October. RSV cases are declining in these regions, despite a spike in influenza.

Influenza activity was highest in the South, followed by the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the West Coast. Data from Walgreens, which tracks prescriptions for antiviral treatments such as Tamiflu, suggests hotspots in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the Gulf region, including Houston and New Orleans.

Hospitalizations for respiratory syncytial virus were also significantly higher than usual, according to another weekly update released by the CDC on Thursday.

Cumulative RSV hospitalization rates have already reached levels not typically seen until December in the United States. It is increasing in all age groups, but especially among children.

So far this season, about 4 in 1,000 babies under 6 months of age have been hospitalized with RSV, but this is only the first month of life. He has more than 1 in her 1,000 children from age 1 to her 2.

Across the United States, nearly one-fifth of RSV PCR tests were positive in the week ending October 29, nearly doubling in a month.

Although the number of cases by week in recent weeks is not complete, the number of RSV cases detected by PCR testing each week in October 2022 is higher than in any other week in at least two years. The number of weekly cases in the week ending 22 October was more than double the number for any week in 2020 or 2021.

While there are signs that the number of RSV cases is declining in the Southern US region, positive test rates and cases continue to rise in other regions, particularly the Midwest.

Pediatric hospitals also remain more than average filled with RSV patients and other diseases. Now, more than three-quarters of his beds in pediatric hospitals and pediatric ICUs nationwide are full, compared with an average of about two-thirds full over the past two years, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. is used.

As of Friday, less than a fifth of beds are available in 17 states. Five are over 90% full: Rhode Island, Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, Delaware, and Washington, DC.

Romero emphasized that vaccination is the best defense against these infections, as holiday gatherings are just around the corner.

“We have vaccines for two of the three viruses we talked about for the flu and for COVID 19,” he said, not enough, but urging Americans to take advantage of them.

Only 8.4% of eligible Americans have received new and updated Covid-19 boosters, according to the CDC’s data tracker.

Influenza vaccination is also less than usual. Based on insurance claims data, adults are getting flu shots down by about 5 million compared to the same period last year, said Lynnette Brammer, who heads oversight for the CDC’s Influenza Division.

For children, vaccination rates look about the same as last year, but those levels represent a 6% drop from what looked like children’s flu vaccinations pre-pandemic, says Brammer. said.

Romero emphasized that while most adults only need one flu vaccine each year, children getting their first flu shot should get two doses.

He also advised people not to try to guess what they have based on symptoms alone, as many of these viruses can cause similar symptoms.

Going to the doctor for a check-up as soon as you start feeling sick can help you take advantage of early antiviral treatments available for flu and Covid-19.

Romero said the CDC is preparing to send more information to doctors about who is eligible for these test-to-treatment strategies.

In addition to vaccinations, Romero reminded people to cover coughs and sneezes, avoid sick people, wash their hands frequently, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

“Some people choose to wear a tight-fitting mask as an added precaution,” Romero said.

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