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NOVEMBER 21, 2022 — The 2022-2023 flu season is getting off to an early start as respiratory disease activity has risen to levels typically seen in January or February, according to New report From the Centers for Disease Control.
An important measure of the severity of the season, the proportion of outpatient visits involving influenza-like illness (ILI), rose to 5.8% in the week of November 6-12. CDC data showed that the last flu season that saw such high early activity was 2009-2010, when visits for a flu-like illness reached 7.7% in mid-October. In the same season, visitation levels decreased rapidly and returned to normal at the beginning of January.
However, as with many other things, the emergence of COVID-19 has led to changes in how we measure influenza activity.
About a year ago, the CDC changed the definition of a flu-like illness to exclude specific mention of influenza itself, which gave rise to COVID-19 and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), with both patients often presenting with a fever and a cough or ulcer. throat. All three viruses are monitored by the CDC’s Outpatient Influenza-Like Illness Surveillance Network, which monitors outpatient visits for respiratory illnesses.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors a flu-like illness, a potential research card has emerged showing these viruses don’t play well together.
Researchers in Canada reported in February that the influenza virus interferes with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and helps prevent the coronavirus from replicating itself. The opposite is also true, researchers report in a study published in the journal, MERS-CoV can overlap with the influenza virus. viruses.
Similarly, there is evidence that rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, may interfere with coronavirus.
Some experts think what this means is that the three viruses are not likely to peak at the same time, overwhelming the healthcare system.
Despite the change in the CDC’s trace definitions, activity during the 2021-22 flu season was below average: the national rate of influenza-like illness did not reach 5% and fell below the current national baseline (average The last three non-COVID influenza seasons plus 2021-22 and select weeks of 2019-20) by the end of January.
This does not appear to be the case in 2022-23.
“So far this season, there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations, and 2,100 deaths from influenza,” the CDC said in the weekly report from its influenza division, also noting The hospitalization rate is higher than the observed rate [at the same point] During every previous season since 2010-2011″.
Of the 2,100 flu-related deaths this season, seven were children. That’s more than during the six weeks of the 2021-22 season, when the first of a total of 44 deaths didn’t occur until week eight, and during the entire 2020-21 season, when there was only one fatality. In the three flu seasons prior to this, 199 (2019-20), 144 (2018-19), and 188 (2017-18) children died of influenza, The CDC said.