Health

Flu epidemic in the USA: 6 MILLION Americans infected with the flu, and 3,000 dead

Flu epidemic in the USA: 6 MILLION Americans infected with the flu, and 3,000 dead

More than six million Americans have contracted the flu and nearly 3,000 have died from the disease so far since October – the worst outbreak in a decade.

The latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also show that there were 53,000 hospitalizations at that time.

A total of 18 states reported ‘very high’ levels of flu in the week ending November 19, four more than in the previous seven-day period. New Mexico, Texas and Tennessee are the hardest hit.

America’s flu season began early this year, with seasonal viruses returning with a vengeance after lockdowns, face masks and other measures prevented exposure to healthy germs.

The wave of disease is also caused a shortage of key medicinesincluding the first-line children’s drug amoxicillin — used to treat fever in children.

The chart above shows the number of positive flu tests reported to the CDC by week through November 19, the most recent week available. The number of cases continues to rise after the season started weeks earlier than expected

A total of 18 states now have very high flu levels, with three ¿ New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas ¿ facing the highest levels in the country.  This is four more than at the same time last week

A total of 18 states now have very high levels of flu, with three – New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas – facing the highest levels in the country. This is four more than at the same time last week

The CDC publishes weekly estimates of the number of flu cases, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by the disease throughout the season.

The latest numbers are 36 percent above the 4.4 million cases estimated during the previous week, and more than double the 2.8 million from two weeks ago.

Deaths also rose from the 1,300 recorded two weeks earlier.

The hospitalization rate was 11.3 admissions per 100,000 people in the week to November 19, higher than at any other time of year since 2010-2011.

Influenza cases now account for 66 percent of the total number of infections throughout last year, when there were 9 million cases. Flu season usually runs from October to May.

Covid stood at 2.2 million confirmed cases as of October, but the real number is likely to be far higher – with many cases missed due to lack of testing. The pandemic virus also caused 14,000 deaths.

During 2009, America was hit by a swine flu epidemic, which caused 60 million cases, 274,000 hospitalizations, and 12,500 deaths.

Influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other seasonal threats have been absent since 2020 after restrictions to control Covid stopped their spread.

This year, Covid is still circulating, but has remained at around 300,000 cases per week since early October.

But this year they’re back with a vengeance, spreading quickly – and infecting many children for the first time.

This graph shows flu hospitalizations by year, with the current season shown as a black line with red triangles.  It shows levels are higher this year than at any time since 2010

This graph shows flu hospitalizations by year, with the current season shown as a black line with red triangles. It shows levels are higher this year than at any time since 2010

The image above shows the number of Covid cases per week across the United States, according to the CDC

The image above shows the number of Covid cases per week across the United States, according to the CDC

Where has the flu gone in the last two years…

The spread of influenza was massively contained in the first two years of the Covid pandemic.

Viral interference from Covid — which has stopped the spread of other viruses — combined with mitigation measures like masking and limiting indoor events has led to little spread of the virus.

As a result, immunity weakened in many individuals because the lack of infections meant it was not restarted.

And the youngest children never built up immunity to seasonal threats because they weren’t exposed to good germs.

This has led many experts to warn that seasonal viruses could return with a vengeance this year.

There were early warning signs in Australia and New Zealand – the “bell time” for outbreaks in the US – which both faced record flu seasons.

There, too, pediatric hospitals have faced an increase in admissions, as is currently the case in the US.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has issued a warning about a major flu outbreak in the southern hemisphere.

About 14 states – mostly in the South – are already dealing with very high levels of the flu even though it’s still early in the season.

Experts say that flu cases are higher this year because the flu was on the sidelines for most of the pandemic.

The youngest children also have not built up defenses against viruses due to lack of exposure to good germs.

Warnings of a bad flu season were issued several months ago after Australia and New Zealand — the forerunners of the US outbreak — faced record seasons.

Canberra has recorded 65,000 cases by May this year, more than double the 30,000 compared to 2019 before the pandemic began.

The country’s children’s hospitals have also faced rising admissions — a warning for the U.S. — forcing some to shift resources away from other care.

But US officials ignored the warnings and stocked up on treatments.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is already reporting shortages of amoxicillin, a key pediatric antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections such as pneumonia, respiratory infections and strep throat – increasingly common after flu infections.

Local pharmacies also said they were running out of Tamiflu, Augmentin – which contains amoxicillin – and Tylenol. There is also a shortage of Albuterol inhalers.

The Biden administration, however, has spent more than $5 billion to bring in bivalent Covid vaccines.

The CDC recommends that all people over the age of six months get an annual flu shot.

The bivalent covid booster jab is also offered to anyone over the age of five.

But less than 12 percent of those eligible came forward for the Covid vaccination.

Influenza vaccine use is also lagging with 150 million doses delivered to date – 13 million fewer than at the same time last year.

To increase acceptance, the Biden administration launched a more than $475 million campaign that will last six weeks.



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