As flu hospitalizations rise in the United States, the Southeast is hardest hit

Enbal Sabag, a nurse practitioner, prepares a flu shot for a patient at CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic on Sept. 3, 2020, in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Influenza hospitalizations have risen by up to a decade in the United States, with the Southeast being the hardest hit region right now.

Five out of every 100,000 people in the United States were hospitalized for the flu during the week ending in November. 5, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the highest hospitalization rate this early in the flu season since 2010, more than 10 years ago.

But the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms, a fever of 100 degrees or higher plus a sore throat or cough, is highest in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington DC , according to CDC data.

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Flu activity is also very high in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Texas, according to the CDC.

More than 6,400 people were hospitalized with the flu during the week ending in November. 5, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Human Services. About 54% of these patients were hospitalized in the southeastern and south-central United States

Just over 2,000 people have been hospitalized for the flu in the region that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. More than 1,400 were hospitalized in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

In the Southeast, the H3N2 influenza A strain appears to be the most common at this time, according to Dr. José Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This strain is associated with more severe disease in the elderly and young children, Romero said.

“There are also early signs of influenza causing serious illness in precisely these two groups of individuals this season,” Romero told reporters on a call earlier this month.

Nearly 11 out of every 100,000 seniors were hospitalized for the flu during the week ending in November. 5 while about 10 out of every 100,000 children under the age of 5 were admitted to the hospital, according to CDC data. The hospitalization rate for these age groups is about double the national rate.

So far this season, at least 2.8 million people have gotten sick with the flu, 23,000 have been hospitalized and 1,300 people have died from the virus, according to the CDC.

Why does everyone seem to be sick

Hospitals in the US USA are being attacked with an increase in patients, especially children, sick with influenza or respiratory syncytial virus. Romero said these viruses are likely on the rise because immunity has waned as pandemic-era public health measures have crushed the transmission of these viruses. That children, as a consequence, become infected for the first time.

Public health officials also expect another wave of Covid infection this winter. The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and the White House have called for everyone who is eligible to get a flu shot and a Covid booster before the holidays.

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