Associated Press data map
The U.S. ushered in the flu season earlier than usual, with a surge in infections and hospitalizations at the highest level for the same period in more than a decade, federal data showed.
Estimates released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed at least 880,000 flu cases, about 6,900 hospitalizations and 360 deaths, including a child, in the quarter ended Oct. 22.
Flu season in the U.S. typically lasts from fall to spring, peaking between December and February. The CDC reports that the hospitalization rate for influenza is now 1.5 per 100,000 people in the 13-state participating influenza surveillance network, the highest rate observed at this time of year each year since 2010.
At the same time, rates of a range of common respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are rising in the United States, putting pressure on pediatric hospitals. According to the CDC, 11 states — along with Washington, D.C. and New York City — have reported high or very high levels of respiratory illness.
Public health experts also expect an increase in new crown cases as the U.S. enters fall and winter. The CDC said Friday that the number of cases is rising for a range of Omicron subtypes, particularly BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, which appear to spread easily and circumvent immunity to some extent. The two subtypes account for about 27% of cases as of October 29, according to the latest estimates.
Experts believe that the early start of the flu season this year is likely due to preventive measures such as wearing masks and social distancing that have reduced the spread of common viruses, leaving people without the chance to gain immunity. Now, more and more people are going indoors in autumn and winter, and students are starting to attend classes normally, and fewer and fewer people are taking epidemic prevention measures.
In response, the CDC and other health agencies are encouraging people to get a flu shot, preferably by the end of October. An estimated 21 percent of adults have been vaccinated against the flu this year, similar to the same time last year, and about 22 percent of children were vaccinated, the report said.
Source: American Chinese Network
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