Influenza activity is continuing to climb in most parts of the country with the largest increases reported in the central and south-central parts of the country, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FluView report.
Data from the most recently reported week shows a 7.7% flu-positivity rate for samples tested in laboratories throughout the country, one of the highest flu-positivity rates of the season. Overall, the percentage of outpatient visits due to respiratory illness increased slightly this week but is still below baseline.
“Influenza is contributing to levels of respiratory illness, but other respiratory viruses are also circulating. The relative contribution of influenza varies by location,” the CDC FluView report says.
So far, most of the influenza activity is due to A(H3N2) viruses, which have been the most frequently detected flu viruses this season. Of the 8,700 influenza positives reported by the public health labs and also tested for SARS-CoV-2, 476 (5.5%) were also positive for SARS-CoV-2.
According to the CDC report, 9.1% of the deaths during the week ending March 19, 2022, were due to pneumonia, influenza, and/or COVID-19. This percentage is higher than the epidemic threshold of 7.1% for this week.
A total of 13 influenza-associated pediatric deaths haved occurred during the 2021-2022 season with no influenza-linked pediatric deaths reported to CDC during the week ending March 19, 2022.
A total of 1,905 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported this season. The cumulative hospitalization rate is higher than the rate for the entire 2020-2021 season, but lower than the rate seen at this time during the four seasons preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitalizations have increased every week for the past seven weeks, the CDC says.
So far, the CDC estimates that this season there have been at least 3.1 million flu illnesses, 31,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths attributed to influenza.