How bad is the flu this year? CDC map looks grim
(NEXSTAR) – Unless you live in one of four states, the flu situation looks to be growing dire near you.
Nearly every state is reporting “high” or “very high” flu activity, according to tracking by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Only four states – Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont – have “low” or “minimal” activity. Two more states, Hawaii and West Virginia, have a “moderate” level of influenza infections.
As of Friday, most states were in the worst category for flu activity, “very high.” In recent weeks, the worst flu activity has largely been in the South. But as of late November, states all over the map (California, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington) were in the most alarming tier.
(See where your state stands on the map below.)
More than 25% of people who tested for flu this week were positive, according to results reported to the CDC.
People aren’t just getting sick with the virus – many are ending up in the hospital. Nearly 20,000 people were admitted to the hospital with influenza last week. The number of flu-related hospital admissions “almost doubled” compared to the week before, the CDC said.
The number of hospitalizations we’ve seen so far this year is already higher than any flu season since 2010-2011.
Fourteen children have died so far this season.
The map, updated Friday, contains data collected through the Thanksgiving week.
The CDC map isn’t based on confirmed influenza lab tests but rather tracks where people are going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms (respiratory illness and fever, plus a cough or sore throat). Because of that, the map “may capture patient visits due to other respiratory pathogens that cause similar symptoms,” the agency explains.
While COVID-19 cases have remained pretty flat over the past several weeks, both the flu and RSV have spread widely.
Dr. Andrew Pekosz, a virologist and professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, believes the U.S. is still in the “early stages” of a surge in influenza cases, he told Nexstar.
“For influenza, we are still on the upside of the curve, and we really have no idea what the peak number of cases will be and when that will happen,” he said.
RSV numbers may be hitting a plateau, he said, “but they’re still at a very high level. So the burden of RSV is still great, but we may be closer to the peak there than we are with flu.”
All three viral illnesses — COVID, influenza and RSV — have the potential to increase after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, simply because people are getting together more often and in bigger groups.
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