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Flu, RSV hitting early and hard across US

Flu, RSV hitting early and hard across US
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By The Associated Press
Nov. 22, 2022 | ATLANTA
By The Associated Press Nov. 22, 2022 | 08:55 AM | ATLANTA
As Americans head into the holiday season, a rapidly intensifying flu season is straining hospitals already overburdened with patients sick from other respiratory infections.

More than half the states have high or very high levels of flu, unusually high for this early in the season, the government reported Friday. Those 27 states are mostly in the South and Southwest but include a growing number in the Northeast, Midwest and West.

This is happening when children’s hospitals already are dealing with a surge of illnesses from RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, a common cause of coldlike symptoms that can be serious for infants and the elderly. 

In Atlanta, Dr. Mark Griffiths describes the mix as a “viral jambalaya.” He said the children’s hospitals in his area have at least 30% more patients than usual for this time of year, with many patients forced to wait in emergency rooms for beds to open up.

With COVID-19 rates going down, “the flu is coming back full force,” he said

The winter flu season usually doesn’t get going until December or January. Hospitalization rates from flu haven’t been this high this early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, CDC officials say. The highest rates are among those 65 and older and children under 5, the agency said.

But flu vaccinations are down from other years, particularly among adults, possibly because the past two seasons have been mild. Flu shots are recommended for nearly all Americans who are at least 6 months old or older.

Adults can get RSV too and that infection can be especially dangerous for older adults who are frail or have chronic illnesses, doctors say. There is not yet a vaccine against RSV although some are in development.




A patient is given a flu vaccine at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans' Community Resource Center where they were offering members and the public free flu and COVID-19 vaccines Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Lynwood, Calif. As Americans head into the late 2022 holiday season, a rapidly intensifying flu season is straining hospitals already overburdened with patients sick from other respiratory infections. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
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