The spread of influenza, or the flu, is starting to decline in several parts of the United States after many hospitals reported an unusually high number of flu-related admissions this season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the number of flu-related hospital admissions fell for the second week in a row, following a similar three-week drop in the percentage of doctor visits related. has the flu.
Health officials said Friday that 6.3% of outpatient medical visits last week were due to flu-like illnesses, up from 7.5% just a month ago.
“It looks like for this first wave of (flu) activity, we may have seen the worst,” said CDC’s Lynnette Brammer, leader of the CDC’s domestic flu surveillance team.
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Despite the weeks-long decline, Brammer urged people to remain cautious and observe health safety behaviors as CDC data indicates “high or very high” flu activity in 45 states.
“It’s not over,” warned Brammer.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University, downplayed the recent trend as observable but not predictive of the spread of flu this season.
“Viruses love to fool you when you predict what they’re going to do,” he said.
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Traditionally, the annual flu season begins in December or January and lasts for several weeks or months before flu-like symptoms begin to clear up in the general population.
This current flu season, however, began in early November and its spread is accompanied by the COVID pandemic and an increase in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
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The CDC estimates that between October 1, 2022 and December 17, 2022, there were between 190,000 and 400,000 hospitalizations and at least 12,000 deaths from influenza in the United States. These deaths include at least 17 children.
“The CDC does not know the exact number of people who have been sick and affected by influenza because influenza is not a reportable disease in most parts of the United States,” the CDC said of its estimates. of the cumulative burden of influenza. “However, these numbers are estimated using a mathematical model, based on observed rates of laboratory-confirmed cases. The cumulative burden of influenza is an estimate of the number of people who have been sick, consulted a professional of health, were hospitalized or died as a result of the flu within a certain period of time.”
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In 2021, the CDC estimated that there were 100,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 5,000 flu-related deaths in the United States.
The CDC recommends that anyone at least 6 months old or older get a flu shot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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