The 2022-2023 flu season is on monitor to be very, very dangerous

Flu season is right here — and early pink flags counsel it’s on monitor to be very, very dangerous. The newest knowledge from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Flu View report present terribly excessive numbers of optimistic flu checks reported to the company from labs across the US. As of November 5, practically 14,000 optimistic flu checks had been reported, as proven within the orange line on the under chart. That’s greater than 12 instances the quantity reported on the similar time in 2019 (proven within the black line).

This 12 months’s early and meteoric rise in flu transmission is at the least considerably associated to the truth that extra individuals are being examined for the flu than throughout earlier years. Over the previous 5 weeks, practically twice as many flu checks had been accomplished at scientific labs nationwide as throughout the identical interval final 12 months (about 460,000 versus 254,000). Extra testing means extra instances will get picked up.

However there are different indicators that these numbers signify actual and really scary traits.

For starters, a a lot increased proportion of flu checks are turning up optimistic than in earlier years: Throughout previous dangerous flu seasons, check positivity has topped out round 3.6 p.c, however final week, practically 13 p.c of flu checks had been optimistic. When the next proportion of checks are optimistic, meaning extra people who find themselves feeling sick even have the flu than in previous years.

Regarding alerts are additionally coming from docs’ places of work and hospitals. Presently of 12 months, only one to 2 p.c of sufferers in outpatient clinics usually report flu-like diseases. However proper now, that quantity is as much as 5 and a half p.c, in accordance with CDC. Not all of these sufferers even have the flu — many may need RSV or different infections — however together with the flu testing numbers, it’s worrisome.

Moreover, greater than 5 instances as many individuals have been hospitalized for the flu to this point this season than on the similar level in any of the final 10 years. And in contrast to RSV, which poses the most important menace to the youngest and oldest, the extreme illness flu causes is extra evenly unfold throughout age teams. About one-third of the individuals who’ve been hospitalized for flu this 12 months had been 65 or older, whereas one other quarter had been ages 18 to 49.

These are particularly worrisome indicators given the well being care workforce pressure we’ve already seen through the ongoing RSV surge. And this early begin doesn’t counsel this flu wave shall be a flash within the pan. The flu is at present worst within the southeastern US, however that may virtually actually change because the air will get colder and the virus migrates northward. Plus, instances haven’t peaked this early since 2009-10’s no good, very dangerous H1N1 flu pandemic.

The excellent news: There’s loads you are able to do to guard your self from the flu. This 12 months’s flu vaccine is broadly accessible and free with most insurance coverage. And since each of the dominant flu strains at present circulating had been included in this 12 months’s vaccine formulation, there’s hope the shot will assist stop extreme sickness in individuals who get it.

There’s additionally drugs to deal with the flu, so in the event you’re sick and in danger for flu issues, search medical care early.

And all that masking, ventilating, and air-filtering we realized to do through the pandemic does loads to forestall flu transmission (to not point out all the opposite respiratory nasties on the market).

Flu transmission truly dropped dramatically through the pandemic. Within the chart above, take a look at the blue traces, which signify instances reported during the last two years. You’ll be able to see that there have been only a few optimistic checks in 2020, when mitigation measures — like widespread masking — had been nonetheless in place and most youngsters weren’t in class buildings. Transmission picked up in 2021, however was on monitor with prior seasons — and was in all probability curbed starting late within the 12 months as a consequence of elevated masking and social distancing in response to the omicron surge of Covid-19.

This 12 months’s begin to the flu season is horrifying. However we will nonetheless take steps to flatten this curve.

Leave a Comment