Thursday, February 2, 2023

Flu scare begins to subside in US after brutal start to season

The flu is on the decline in many parts of the US after an alarmingly early and strong season.

The number of hospital admissions for influenza decreased for the second week in a row, according to a national surveillance system administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And the percentage of doctor’s office visits due to fever and other flu-like symptoms has dropped for three weeks in a row.

“It looks like for this first wave of (flu) activity, we may have seen the worst of it,” said Lynette Brummer of the CDC, the government agency that monitors flu in the United States.

But he said there is still a lot of flu spreading. CDC data indicates that flu activity last week was high or very high in 45 states.

And the current decline doesn’t mean flu will subside for the rest of winter; A second outbreak is common, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

“Viruses like to make you look like a fool when you predict what they’re going to do,” he said.

The annual winter flu season doesn’t usually start until December or January, but it started as early as November. This has been compounded by the simultaneous spread of COVID-19 and other viruses including RSV.

We’re already into cold and flu season, which may have many wondering which virus is causing their symptoms. This is what you need to know.

The measure of traffic to doctors’ offices is based on reports of symptoms such as fever, cough and sore throat, not laboratory-confirmed diagnoses, so it captures all respiratory illnesses together. Whatever the current mix, the overall effect is declining.

Health officials said Friday that 6.3% of outpatient doctor visits last week were due to flu-like illnesses. It came in at 7.5%, but has been falling since Thanksgiving week.

Although flu activity remains high, officials said they have seen some declines in much of the country, including the Southeast, where flu strikes quickly and hard.

The CDC estimates that the flu has caused at least 190,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths so far this season. At least 17 children are among the dead. Flu shots are recommended for nearly all Americans who are at least 6 months of age or older.

Health officials say that it is still not too late to get vaccinated. “It’s not over,” Brummer said.

Nation World News Desk
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