The United States is entering what may be its worst flu season in over a decade. According to weekly data published by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, respiratory symptoms including fever, cough, and sore throat were reported in 7.5% of all visits to health care providers during the week ending November 26, 2022.
The percentage, used by the CDC to measure flu-, or influenza-like illnesses (ILI), is well above the national baseline of 2.5%, and has already surpassed peak levels of past flu seasons in the U.S. The incidence of respiratory illness is exceptionally higher than the rate observed in week 47 during every previous season since 2010-2011. (These are the worst epidemics and pandemics in history.)
Multiple respiratory viruses, including influenza, but also SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are co-circulating. (See how COVID fatality rates compare with other diseases.)
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu so far this season.
The seven states with the highest incidence of flu-like illness last week all reported rates of 10% or greater. New Mexico (14.3%), Tennessee (13.6%), Washington (12.9%), Kentucky (11.0%), Ohio (10.7%), Nebraska (10.6%). Two additional jurisdictions, Washington D.C. (12.9%) and Puerto Rico (13.2%) also reported among the worst incidence of the flu so far this season.
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