The flu season in the United States has begun unusually quickly, adding to the mix of viruses that have been filling hospitals and doctor waiting rooms since autumn.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the hospitalization rate hasn’t been this high this early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Flu reports are already high in 17 states.An estimated 730 people have died from the flu so far, including at least two children.
The flu typically peaks in December or January during the winter season.
According to Dr. José Romero of the CDC, “We are seeing more cases than we would expect at this time,” he stated on Friday.
A busy flu season is not out of the ordinary.During the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation experienced two mild seasons, and experts have expressed concern that the flu could return strongly as a COVID-averse public abandons respiratory virus prevention measures like masks.
At the end of the week, a community Montessori school in New Albany, Indiana, switched to virtual instruction because so many students were ill with the flu.The 500 students at the school will resume wearing masks on Monday.
Burke Fondren, who is in charge of the school, stated, “Everybody just wants kids on campus, that is for sure.”We will carry out our obligations.
Some good news may be forthcoming:Romero stated that COVID-19 cases have been decreasing and leveling off over the past three weeks.
Additionally, health officials believe that they are observing early indications in a few regions of the nation that a wave of yet another respiratory virus may be beginning to recede.
The respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common cause of runny nose, cough, and fever in children.According to officials at the CDC, while RSV continues to rise nationwide, preliminary data indicate a decline in the Southeast, Southwest, and an area that includes the Rocky Mountain states and the Dakotas.
Experts believe that the recent increase in RSV infections is due to children’s increased vulnerability now that they are no longer shielded from common bugs like they were during the pandemic lockdowns.Additionally, the virus, which typically affects children between the ages of 1 and 2, is now affecting more children up to age 5.
Beds have been full at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital for 54 days in a row.
The chief medical officer of Comer, Dr. John Cunningham, stated, “The curves are all going up for RSV and influenza.”He added that RSV illnesses appear to be unusually severe.
Due to a lack of space, Comer has had to decline transfer requests from other hospitals.Children used to be able to be transferred to Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin from hospitals in the Chicago area, but that has stopped.”They also do not have any more beds,” Cunningham stated.
There is currently no RSV vaccine, but flu and COVID-19 shots are available.
Officials in charge of health say that the number of adults and children getting flu shots is down from before the pandemic, but it is up for children from last year.
13,000 people have been hospitalized and estimated to have contracted the flu this season.According to CDC data, flu activity is highest in some of the regions where RSV is decreasing, including the Southeast.