Flu, COVID Cases Climb as RSV Infections Start to Level Off

MONDAY, Dec. 4, 2023 (Healthday News) -- While flu and COVID cases are now on the rise, RSV infections may soon peak and level off, U.S. health officials report.

COVID-19 continues to fuel the most hospitalizations and deaths among all respiratory illnesses — about 15,000 hospitalizations and about 1,000 deaths every week, Dr. Mandy Cohen, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations late last week.

When it came to flu cases, seven states were reporting high levels of flu-like illnesses in early November. But a new CDC report released Friday said that tally was now up to 11 states — predominantly in the South and Southwest.

Meanwhile, RSV infections have risen sharply in some parts of the country, straining hospital emergency departments in Georgia, for example. However, “we think we’re near the peak of RSV season or will be in the next week or so,” Cohen testified, the Associated Press reported.

RSV is a common cause of mild cold-like symptoms, but it can be dangerous for infants and older people. Luckily, vaccines and drugs that guard against RSV infection have been approved for the first time this winter.

During her testimony, Cohen was asked about pneumonia cases among children in Massachusetts and Ohio, the AP reported. There are a number of possible causes of the lung infection, and it can be a complication of COVID-19, the flu or RSV, but Cohen said “there is no evidence” the cases are due to anything unusual.

In Ohio, health officials have reported 145 cases since August and most of the children recovered at home. The illnesses were caused by a variety of common viruses and bacteria, the AP reported.

In Massachusetts, health officials there said there's been a modest increase in pneumonia in kids, but that it is appropriate for the season.

Meanwhile, China has recently had a surge in respiratory illnesses which health officials there say have been driven by the flu and other usual causes.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more on respiratory infections.

SOURCE: Weekly Viral Respiratory Illness Snapshot, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dec. 1, 2023; Associated Press

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