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Flu cases are increasing as we return to a more “typical” season

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November 14, 2023 – In what looks like a return to a typical pre-pandemic flu season, nationwide cases proceed to slowly rise this fall, national infectious disease experts and pharmacy data show.

The flu continues to be unrelated, and authorities are touting flu activity results to remind people to get a flu shot as soon as possible – ahead of an expected peak early next yr.

Seasonal influenza activity is increasing in most parts of the country, particularly within the South Central, Southeast and West Coast regions, the CDC said updated numbers Published Monday. In the previous week, the variety of laboratory tests positive for flu increased by 3% and the variety of outpatient visits for respiratory illnesses increased by 2.9%.

Figures from a national pharmacy chain show the identical overall slow rise in cases and highest flu activity across the southern United States. As of November 4, 2023, Puerto Rico, Mississippi and Louisiana had the best flu activity Walgreens Flu Index 2023-2024 shows.

“Activity is currently very low. There is no big flu season yet,” said Pedro Piedra, MD, professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The most typical virus currently circulating is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), not the influenza virus. “But that doesn’t mean the flu won’t come. Viruses come in waves,” Piedra said. “Until then, this is the best time to get vaccinated and prepare for flu season.”

The variety of weekly flu hospitalizations can be increasing: 1,962 people were hospitalized in essentially the most recent week of CDC monitoring. Compared to the previous week, admissions increased barely, with seniors and youngsters under 4 making up nearly all of cases. The agency reports that one child has died from the flu to date this season.

“Although it is still early days and flu season is always unpredictable, our historical data suggests that this could be a return to a typical two-wave flu season, with activity peaking in December and peaking in February “Kevin Ban, MD, Walgreens' chief medical officer, said in a statement.

Index flu activity is based on changes in the number of antiviral medications used each week to treat flu at Walgreens and Duane Reade drugstore locations in the United States. Data is also provided by state and region.

“The index is not intended to illustrate the severity of influenza, but rather, based on this methodology, to show which populations in the United States and Puerto Rico experience the highest incidence of influenza each week,” the corporate said in an announcement.

Piedra warned that other infections could prompt people to purchase antiviral drugs. Lab-confirmed flu infection data, just like the CDC's numbers, could be more precise, he said.