According to several measures, including hospitalization rates, flu activity in the United States has declined over the past week following an unusually early spike in the influenza season. This was according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its weekly FluView report.
The agency reported nine flu-related deaths in children and raised the season’s total to 30.
The CDC reported that cases are down slightly but that wastewater detections of SAR–CoV-2 have increased in its weekly COVID-19 update. A new report highlights flu-COVID coinfections among hospitalized children.
Flu-like illness and hospital flu cases are on the decline
According to the CDC update, 23503 people were admitted to hospital with the flu the Department of Health and Human Services surveillance. This is a decrease from the 25,906 cases reported the previous week.
A greater drop in the rate of flu hospitalizations was observed. Weekly hospitalizations were 4.5 per 100,000, a decrease from 5.9 per 100,000 the previous week. The CDC stated that at least part of this decrease could be due to delays in reporting.
In nursing homes, flu cases increased a little. According to the CDC, 971 (or 6.8%) long-term care facilities in 14,315 reported at least one influenza-positive resident. This is an increase from 5.4% the previous week.
From 7.2% last week to 6.9% this week, the percentage of influenza-like illness (ILI), which the CDC defines as a respiratory condition that includes a fever and sore throat, decreased from 7.2% to 6.9%. This is the second consecutive decline in ILI over the past week (see the CDC graph).
25% of the respiratory samples that were tested in US clinical labs for influenza had been positive, compared to 24.8% last week. Nearly all of the flu-positive samples that were tested by US public health laboratories last week (99.8%), were influenza A.
According to the agency, “CDC estimates that this season has seen at least 15,000,000 illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations and 9,300 deaths due to flu.” The agency recommends everyone aged 6 months or older get the flu vaccine.
COVID cases are down 3%, and deaths drop 13%
The CDC released a separate weekly update stating that the 7-day average number of confirmed COVID-19 cases fell from 67,034 this week to 65,067. This is a 2.9% decrease. The CDC reported a nearly 50% increase in cases last week.
The number of new COVID hospitalizations increased from 4,899 per day to 5,010 in a seven-day period, which was a 2.3% rise. However, the average daily death rate for 7 days fell to 13.2% from 445 in the previous week to 386 last weekend.
Johns Hopkins COVID Tracker shows that there have been 1,087,083 deaths from US COVID-19 and 99,843,680 cases since the pandemic.
Over 44% of US counties have medium-to-high COVID-19 community levels. This week, 50 of 52 jurisdictions reported high or medium COVID community levels, compared to 48 last week.
Today, the CDC released its Omicron version proportion projections. These show an increased proportion of the BQ.1 subvariants at 30.7%, and 38.4% respectively. While BQ.1 fell slightly, BQ.1.1 was slightly higher. Other lineages including XBB saw their proportions decrease.
According to the CDC, only 14.1% of Americans have received the updated bivalent booster dose. This is despite Americans receiving 68.9% of their primary vaccine series. This percentage has risen from 13.5% last Wednesday.
Flu-COVID coinfections in children
Today, combined flu-COVID news was published by the CDC and state partners. It shows that 6% of the children who were hospitalized with influenza in the 2021-22 season (32 out of 575) also had COVID-19.
Parents and the public should be aware that there is a risk of pediatric coinfection. Prevention strategies can also be implemented.
According to the report, coinfection patients required more invasive and non-invasive respiratory support than those who had only flu.
SARS-CoV-2 coinfection was the cause of 7 out of 44 flu-related deaths in children. None of the 7 children who died from flu-related complications received antivirals and none were fully vaccinated.
According to the study authors, parents and children should be aware that there is a risk of pediatric coinfection. They should also consider wearing masks made from high-quality materials when respiratory virus circulation is high.