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February 21, 2024

Flu Cases On The Rise Nationwide As Holidays Approach

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Dec 22, 2023

The flu season is hitting many parts of the United States hard this December, with cases rising nationwide. As families prepare to gather for the holiday season, health experts are advising precautionary measures to prevent further spread.

What’s Causing The Flu Uptick?

According to reports, there are a few key factors driving flu activity:

  • New flu strains circulating this season that people may have less immunity to
  • Reduced population immunity due to lower flu vaccination rates
  • People gathering indoors more due to colder weather

The early onset and rapid acceleration of flu is worrying health officials.

“Influenza has just taken off like a rocket,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hot Spots And Most Affected Groups

Some parts of the country are being hit harder than others right now. According to the CDC, areas with “very high” flu levels include:

  • New Mexico
  • New York City
  • Washington D.C.
  • North Carolina

Groups most vulnerable to flu complications include young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions. Hospitalization rates are highest among adults over 65 right now.

Age Group Hospitalization Rate Per 100k
0-4 years 9.7
5-17 years 2.0
18-49 years 4.2
50-64 years 8.2
65+ years 29.7

(Rates calculated by CDC for week ending Dec 10th)

Preventing Holiday Flu Spread

With many families planning holiday gatherings in the coming weeks, health officials are advising protective steps to prevent further flu transmission:

  • Getting vaccinated if you have not already
  • Wearing masks indoors if feeling unwell
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Staying home if sick
  • Improving indoor ventilation

Flu viruses mainly spread through coughing, sneezing, and close contact. Mask wearing can reduce emitted aerosols when infected. Frequent hand washing also limits transfer from contaminated surfaces.

What To Do If You Get Sick

For those who come down with flu symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches, or fatigue, the CDC recommends:

  • Staying home from school and work
  • Getting lots of rest
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Treating symptoms with over-the-counter medications
  • Consulting a doctor about antiviral medications which can shorten illness duration and reduce complications

Seeking prompt medical attention is advised if experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness or confusion.

Outlook For The Weeks And Months Ahead

With flu activity still rising and holiday travel underway, cases are likely to keep climbing over the next few weeks. Whether this ends up being a severe flu season will depend on if newer strains cause more severe illness and how well vaccination and antivirals can mitigate outcomes.

In the past, flu seasons have sometimes peaked around the holidays then declined in January and February. But sustained precautions like masking and distancing may be necessary well into 2023 if the virus remains widespread. Health officials will continue monitoring to see if the current trajectory persists or starts trending back down after the new year.

The key right now is taking sensible precautions around holiday gatherings to limit influenza exposure, especially for high risk groups. With some care and caution, families can still find ways to celebrate together safely this season. But flu activity requires close attention in the weeks and months ahead to protect community health.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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