US health officials: RSV down in some areas, flu continues to rise | Health info
On Friday, federal health officials warned that the United States could experience a difficult winter due to an increase in circulating respiratory viruses.
“With the increase in RSV infections, a growing number of influenza cases and the continued burden of COVID-19 in our community, there is no doubt that we will face challenges this winter,” Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response within the Department of Health and Human Services, said during a call with reporters.
The flu continues to rise uncharacteristically early in the season in the United States, sending hospitalizations to levels not seen at this point in the season in more than a decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also this week reported the second pediatric flu death so far this season.
The CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 1.6 million illnesses, 13,000 hospitalizations and 730 deaths from the flu. Flu vaccination is also lower this year compared to last year.
The Southeast and South-Central regions of the United States have the highest level of activity. But there are positive signs that respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, may be turning the page in those same regions.
RSV usually causes mild cold-like symptoms. Although most people recover from RSV within a week or two, it can be serious for infants and the elderly.
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While RSV activity is increasing nationally, the Southeast and Southcentral United States are seeing improvements regionally. Regions include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Mexico, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas as well as Colorado , Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
“In all three of these regions, it looks like RSV is trending down and influenza is starting to go up or up,” Jose Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on the call. with journalists.
He added, however, that the numbers are still significantly higher than those seen at this time in previous years.
Romero also offered a possible explanation for the trend, saying it’s typical to see a cycle of viral infections where one increases while another fades.
“I think what we’re seeing is this cycle of infections,” Romero said. “Part of it is that you’ve now infected enough people that you can’t infect a bunch more later on.”
Health officials have urged adults and children to get flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
“Parents and caregivers should be on the lookout for emergency warning signs for children and young infants,” Romero said. “It’s hard to tell the difference between influenza, COVID-19, and other respiratory viruses just by looking at the symptoms alone.”