Friday, November 11, 2022

CDC FluView Week 44: Flu Still Rising Sharply


The intensity of flu-like illnesses - particularly in the Southeastern United States - two weeks before Thanksgiving is an unusual, and potentially ominous sign of what the Holidays could have in store for us this year.  

The week's ILI outpatient visits chart (below) shows just how sharp, and early, this year's `flu season' is compared to recent years.  

While not all of this is due to influenza A (COVID, RSV, and other respiratory viruses are in the mix), but combined they are already putting pressure on hospitals and ERs around the country (see CDC HAN #0479: Increased Respiratory Virus Activity, Especially Among Children, Early in the 2022-2023 Fall and Winter).

The Key Points from this week's FluView Report include:

Key Points
  • Influenza activity continues to increase. Regions 4 (Southeast) and 6 (South-Central) are reporting the highest levels of flu activity, followed by regions 3 (Mid-Atlantic) and 9 (south-central West Coast).
  • Three influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported this week.
  • CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 2.8 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 1,300 deaths from flu.
  • The cumulative hospitalization rate in the FluSurv-NET system is higher than the rate observed in week 44 during every previous season since 2010-2011.
  • An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with flu.
  • CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine annually.
  • There are also prescription flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness; those need to be started as early as possible.

Complicating matters there are reports from around the country of a spot shortages of the antiviral Oseltamivir (aka Tamiflu).  Luckily, there are other alternatives out there (see FDA Approval Of Xofluza : A New Class Of Influenza Antiviralwhich the FDA recently approved for children aged 5 and up. 

It isn't too late to get a flu shot, and face masks and hand sanitizer can add additional layers of protection.