Experts emphasize the significance of preventive measures, including as masking and immunization, as well as the usefulness of therapy for individuals who do become ill, as seasonal virus activity spikes across the United States.
This season, respiratory illnesses have resulted in the hospitalization of tens of thousands of individuals every week. According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the week ending December 23, there were thousands of patients admitted with respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and over 29,000 people admitted with Covid-19. Approximately 15,000 patients were diagnosed with the flu.
According to CDC data, Covid-19 levels in wastewater, a key indicator of viral transmission, are extremely high nationwide and greater than they were in every region at this time last year. Hospitalizations increased by almost 17% and weekly visits to the ER increased by 12% in the same week.
Furthermore, flu activity is rising quickly even though Covid-19 continues to be the main cause of hospitalizations from respiratory viruses. According to CDC projections, this flu season has resulted in almost 7 million illnesses, 73,000 hospital admissions, and 4,500 fatalities. Several indicators are also high and continuing to rise.
While there are indications of a slowdown in RSV activity in certain regions of the US, hospitalization rates and other metrics continue to be high. In general, those who are older and younger are most impacted.
Winter respiratory infections, particularly respiratory viruses, are on the rise. Therefore, it’s flu and Covid, and we can’t undervalue the significance of RSV,” Dr. Peter Hotez, head of the Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine, stated. Thus, it’s a triple threat—and possibly a fourth as well, as many of these viral infections are complicated by pneumococcal pneumonia.
The number of respiratory viruses has increased during the past few weeks. According to the CDC, flu-like activity is currently high or very high throughout two-thirds of the country, including California, New York City, Washington, as well as the South and Northeast.
“Keep in mind, all of these figures were obtained prior to people gathering for the holidays,” stated Hotez. Therefore, don’t be upset or shocked if, as January approaches, we even witness a bigger bump.
Even though medicines to defend against all three major viruses are now available, vaccination uptake is still low this season, despite a historic first. medicines can help prevent serious sickness and death. According to CDC data, only 19% of adults and 8% of children have received the most recent Covid-19 vaccine, while 17% of individuals 60 years of age and above have received the most recent RSV vaccine. This flu season, fewer than half of adults and kids have received the vaccination.
“Unfortunately, as a population, we have underutilized both the influenza and the updated Covid vaccines,” Vanderbilt University infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner said. “But since these viruses will persist for some time, it’s still not too late to get vaccinated.”
The CDC reports that hospital bed capacity, including that of intensive care units, is “stable” across the country. But hospitals in at least five states are reverting to mask requirements due to elevated respiratory virus levels.
Health professionals who deal directly with patients will be required to wear masks starting on Tuesday, according to Mass General Brigham spokesman Timothy Sullivan. Patients and visitors will also be “strongly encouraged to wear a facility-issued mask.”
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