The 2022-23 influenza season got off to a fast and rather nasty start in October and November, but December brought a drop in infections instead of the usual surge, according to CDC data.
“Seasonal influenza activity remains high but is declining in most areas,” the CDC’s Influenza Division said last week in its weekly FluView report.
Nationally, 6.1% of outpatient visits for the week ending Dec. 24 were for influenza-like illness. Since that rate hit 7.5% in late November — the fastest start to a flu season since 2009 — activity has dropped for 4 consecutive weeks, the CDC said.
In 2009, the outpatient visit rate reached 7.7% in mid-October, but activity dropped quickly after that, falling to less than 3% by the end of November, CDC data show.
As with the number of outpatient visits, hospital admissions are already on the decline as well. The weekly number of flu-related hospitalizations reached 26,000 in early December but has fallen for 3 straight weeks and was down to just under 19,000 for Dec. 18-24, according to data from nearly 4,900 hospitals to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The CDC estimates the total number of flu hospitalizations to be 210,000 through the first 11 weeks of the 2022-23 season. There have been an estimated 20 million illnesses and 13,000 deaths from the flu so far in the United States, with 61 of those deaths in children. By comparison, there were 44 pediatric deaths from the flu during the entire 2021-22 season, only one in 2020-21, and 199 in 2019-20, the CDC said.
CDC: “Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, Updated December 30, 2022.”
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