HealthDay News — Flu season has struck the United States hard and early, burdening hospitals that are also coping with a surge in other respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.
The nation has seen at least 4.4 million cases of flu so far this season, with 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths from flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.
While typically, flu rates do not begin to rise until December or January, 27 U.S. states now have high or very high flu levels. The South and Southwest have been hit hardest but the numbers are growing in other regions, especially among those 65 years and older and children younger than 5 years, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Hospitalization rates from the flu have not been so high so early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the AP noted. Furthermore, flu vaccination rates are lower than in past years, especially in adults. This may be due to the past two flu seasons being mild.
Mark Griffiths, M.D., a pediatric emergency physician with Children’s Health Care of Atlanta, called the combination of RSV, flu, and COVID-19 a “viral jambalaya.” Griffiths told the AP that children’s hospitals in his area have at least 30 percent more patients than usual.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 is still responsible for more than 3,000 daily hospital admissions, according to the CDC.