According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has been revealed that respiratory illness activity is on the rise across the majority of the United States.
The latest data underscores the alarming situation, indicating elevated or increasing levels of respiratory illnesses in 38 states and New York City, with 21 states currently grappling with “very high” activity.
According to the CDC, respiratory illness activity includes people who seek medical attention for symptoms like fever, cough, and/or sore throat associated with a variety of respiratory diseases, such as the flu, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the common cold.
John Brownstein, Ph.D., an ABC News contributor, highlighted the cyclical nature of this surge by stating that “a steady increase in respiratory illnesses is a common annual trend, typically fuelled by holiday gatherings and travel.” With January and February often marking the peak of such illnesses, it’s crucial to exercise heightened vigilance now.”
The influenza landscape is also causing concern, with flu hospitalizations witnessing a significant 35% increase in the past week alone.
The CDC estimates that this season has seen at least 10 million flu-related illnesses, 110,000 hospitalizations, and 6,500 deaths. Adults over 65 bear the brunt of flu hospitalizations.
CDC modeling indicates a growing or likely growing trend of flu infections in 47 states and territories.
Simultaneously, COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen for eight consecutive weeks, with a 20% increase in the most recent week, although current numbers remain lower than the corresponding period last year.
Adults over 65 face the highest rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Furthermore, RSV activity persists at elevated levels across the country, though some areas report a decline.
Infants, Elderly at Risk From RSV and COVID-19
Infants under 4 years of age face the highest rates of RSV hospitalisations.
Demographic disparities are apparent in viral respiratory deaths, with adults over 65, American Indian/Alaska Natives, and Asians/Pacific Islanders experiencing the highest rates.
COVID-19 remains the primary driver of viral respiratory deaths in these groups. In response to the escalating situation, health officials stress the importance of vaccination.
The CDC recommends an updated flu and COVID-19 vaccine for everyone, along with RSV vaccines for eligible individuals. Acting promptly is crucial, as it takes up to two weeks post-vaccination to achieve full protection.
For those seeking vaccine locations, the federal government maintains a national database at vaccines.gov, or individuals can call 800-232-0233.
Those looking for the RSV vaccine should speak with healthcare professionals. John Brownstein offers advice to the public, emphasizing, “My advice is to prioritize health safety measures like staying home when sick, getting vaccinated if you haven’t already, and practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of illnesses.”
As the nation grapples with this respiratory health crisis, these precautionary measures become increasingly imperative.