With flu hospitalizations already at their highest level in a decade as health experts warn of an early spike, how does this season compare to previous years?
A new chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dramatically shows just how unusual the flu season has been so far.
This year, with a few exceptions, nearly all countries are listed at the ‘high’ or ‘very high’ level, as data through the week of November 26 show.
Looking at the past six years for influenza, the Chicago Public Health Department said data show that the level of cases nationwide remained relatively low throughout the same period.
“It’s unusual to see significant flu activity this early,” the agency said.
According to the CDC, flu cases in the United States have increased rapidly in recent weeks. COVID cases are also rising rapidly, including in Illinois, with RSV cases ravaging health systems for weeks.
Dr. Sharon Werber of Cook County Health said the NBC Chicago CDC chart shows a breathtaking increase in flu cases in recent weeks.
“The flu is raging right now and we don’t know when it will peak,” she said.
Nearly across the country, the situation is troubling, with 47 states listed in the “high” or “very high” category for respiratory disease, according to CDC data.
In parts of the Southern Hemisphere, including Australia, flu season is particularly problematic for children, with 14 children nationwide having died from the flu so far this season, but doctors say the number could rise. I am concerned.
“What breaks my heart as a pediatrician is when I see children hospitalized and dying from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Alison Alwadi of the Chicago Public Health Service. .
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Wallenski said in a call with reporters on Monday that officials are “actively investigating” whether flu and RSV levels should be added to the guidance.
“In the meantime, my point is that we may not wait for CDC action to wear masks.
Experts encouraged anyone eligible to get vaccinated against both the flu and COVID as the holiday season approached.