Most parts of the country are seeing a rise in flu cases as pandemic era precautions, including social distancing and masking, are lifted.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly FluView report shows a continuous rise in flu cases in many places with the biggest increase in the central and south-central regions of the country. The rate of flu positivity this week hovered just above 8% and the percentage of outpatient visits due to respiratory illness increased slightly this week.
According to the CDC, the majority of influenza viruses detected in clinical laboratories nationwide are A(H3N2). H3N2 viruses identified this season are genetically closely related to the vaccine virus.
Additionally, while the percentage of B/Victoria viruses circulating this season is small, the majority of the B/Victoria viruses characterized are antigenically similar to the vaccine reference virus.
The CDC cautions that while influenza is contributing to levels of respiratory illness, other respiratory viruses are also circulating and the relative contribution of influenza varies by location.
The CDC highlights that COVID-19 remains a threat. Of the 9,652 influenza positives reported this season by the public health labs and also tested for SARS-CoV-2, 5.1% were also positive for SARS-CoV-2.
A CDC estimate shows that, so far this season, there have been roughly 4.3 million flu illnesses, 42,000 hospitalizations, and 2,500 deaths from flu.