On November 4, 2022, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed their weekly Influenza Surveillance Report for Week 43 (October 23, 2022, to October 29, 2022). With a cumulative hospitalization fee of two.9/100,000 instances, which amounted to a complete of 4,326 sufferers hospitalized throughout Week 43, influenza an infection and hospitalization charges proceed to extend at an alarmingly quick and early fee this yr.
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Early and excessive flu hospitalization charges
As of the publication of this report, over 1.6 million flu instances have been reported in the U.S. for the 2022-2023 influenza season. Of these instances, 13,000 sufferers have required hospitalization and 730 folks have died from the flu.
Some of probably the most affected areas of the U.S. embody Southeast and South-Central states akin to South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, and Virginia. Maryland, New York City, and Washington D.C. are additionally reporting excessive ranges of influenza-like diseases at charges which might be considerably greater than these reported at the identical time final yr.
We’re seeing the highest hospitalization charges going again a decade.”
The risk of a ‘triple-demic’
Like the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which has additionally been infecting an growing variety of youngsters at an unseasonably early fee as in comparison with earlier years, influenza instances remained comparatively placid all through the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This is basically as a result of lockdowns and different preventative measures that have been carried out all through the pandemic prevented many from being uncovered to those and different respiratory viruses.
In addition to the already excessive charges of RSV and flu, COVID-19 instances are additionally anticipated to surge this yr as a results of the transition of extra folks indoors and the continuous emergence of recent escape variants of the causative severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Taken collectively, the circulation of those three viruses this season could result in a ‘triple-demic,’ which is able to possible improve the burden on already strained healthcare techniques. Despite the added strain of those new hospitalizations in some states, enough provides of non-public protecting tools (PPE) and ventilators stay out there for his or her rapid use.
How to guard your self this winter
The U.S. CDC recommends that each one folks over the age of six months get vaccinated in opposition to each influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses.
Current proof means that the influenza vaccine for this yr contains influenza A(H3N2) viruses which might be genetically and antigenically just like at the moment circulating strains, thus indicating that these vaccines ought to provide adequate safety in opposition to severe illness and/or an infection. An growing variety of influenza A(H1N1) viruses, that are additionally included in the yearly influenza vaccine, have additionally been reported nationally.
Similarly, a new COVID-19 bivalent messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine booster dose has been authorised to be used in anybody over the age of 5 in the U.S. This booster vaccine dose seems to supply safety in opposition to severe illness following an infection with each the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 pressure, in addition to the at the moment dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Despite the supply of those vaccines, the uptake this yr has been comparatively low. In truth, about 5 million fewer flu vaccine doses have been administered thus far this yr as in comparison with the identical time final yr in the U.S. Similarly, as of October 12, 2022, solely about 11.5 million Americans had acquired the up to date COVID-19 booster dose.
In addition to the significance of vaccination in opposition to each the flu and SARS-CoV-2, folks also needs to proceed to observe good hygiene together with frequent handwashing, protecting coughs and sneezes, staying house when sick, and avoiding shut contact with symptomatic people.
Certain antiviral drugs are additionally out there to deal with sufferers with severe sickness following an infection with both of those viruses. Currently, the CDC recommends that anybody with confirmed or suspected influenza an infection who’s at a greater threat for issues and/or is hospitalized to be instantly administered influenza antivirals. Some of the commonest antivirals that could be used to deal with influenza an infection in the U.S. embody oseltamivir or baloxavir.
Similar suggestions have been given for treating sufferers with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 an infection who’re at an elevated threat for severe sickness and meet present eligibility necessities to obtain these brokers. Currently, ritonavir and remdesivir have been efficiently used to ameliorate delicate to average COVID-19 in at-risk affected person populations.