December 4, 2023

By Mike Stobbe | Related Press

NEW YORK — The U.S. flu season is underway, with a minimum of seven states reporting excessive ranges of sicknesses and instances rising in different elements of the nation, well being officers say.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention posted new flu knowledge on Friday, displaying very excessive exercise final week in Louisiana, and excessive exercise in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and South Carolina. It was additionally excessive within the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory the place well being officers declared an influenza epidemic earlier this month.

“We’re off to the races,” stated Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt College infectious ailments skilled.

Historically, the winter flu season ramps up in December or January. Nevertheless it took off in October final 12 months, and is making a November entrance this 12 months.

Flu exercise was average however rising in New York Metropolis, Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. And whereas flu exercise has been excessive in Alaska for weeks, the state didn’t report knowledge final week, so it wasn’t a part of the newest depend.

Monitoring throughout flu season depends partially on studies of individuals with flu-like signs who go to physician’s places of work or hospitals; many individuals with the flu usually are not examined, so their infections aren’t lab-confirmed. COVID-19 and different respiratory viruses can typically muddy the image.

Alicia Budd, who leads the CDC’s flu surveillance crew, stated a number of indicators are displaying “continued will increase” in flu.

There are completely different sorts of flu viruses, and the model that’s been spreading probably the most up to now this 12 months often results in a lesser quantity of hospitalizations and deaths within the aged — the group on whom flu tends to take the most important toll.

To this point this fall, the CDC estimates a minimum of 780,000 flu sicknesses, a minimum of 8,000 hospitalizations and a minimum of 490 flu-related deaths — together with a minimum of one baby.

Budd stated that it’s not but clear precisely how efficient the present flu vaccines are, however the photographs are well-matched to the flu strains which might be displaying up. Within the U.S., about 35% of U.S. adults and 33% of youngsters have been vaccinated in opposition to flu, present CDC knowledge signifies. That’s down in comparison with final 12 months in each classes.

Flu vaccination charges are higher than charges for the opposite two fundamental respiratory viruses — COVID-19 and RSV. About 14% of adults and 5% of youngsters have gotten the at present really helpful COVID-19 shot, and about 13.5% of adults 60 and older have gotten one of many RSV photographs that turned obtainable earlier this 12 months.

The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Instructional Media Group. The AP is solely liable for all content material.