Flu Cases Climbing as We Return to a More 'Typical' Season

WebMD Health News | Damian McNamara, MA

In what looks like a return to a typical pre-pandemic flu season, cases nationwide continue to slowly climb this fall, national infectious disease expert and pharmacy data shows. 

Flu is still nothing to mess with, and officials are promoting the flu activity results as a reminder for people to get their flu shots as soon as possible – before an expected peak early next year.

Seasonal influenza activity is increasing in most parts of the country, primarily in the South Central, Southeast, and West Coast regions, the CDC said in updated numbers released Monday. In the prior week, the number of lab tests positive for the flu was up 3%, and the number of outpatient visits for respiratory illness was up 2.9%.

Numbers from a national pharmacy chain shows the same overall slow increase in cases and the highest flu activity across the southern United States.As of Nov. 4, 2023, Puerto Rico, Mississippi, and Louisiana had the most flu activity, the 2023-2024 Walgreens Flu Index shows.

"At this time, it is very low activity. There's not much of a flu season yet," said Pedro Piedra, MD, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The major virus circulating now is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and not influenza. "But that doesn't mean that the flu is not going to come. Viruses come in waves," Piedra said. "Until then, this is the best time to be vaccinated and to be getting prepared for the flu season."

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