AP

Holidays didn’t lead to feared bump in flu cases, CDC says

Jan 13, 2023, 1:58 PM | Updated: Jan 18, 2023, 11:22 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — New U.S. government data suggests holiday gatherings didn’t spark surges in respiratory diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported that visits to doctors’ offices for the flu-like illnesses fell for the sixth straight week. Reports of RSV, a common cause of cold-like symptoms that can be serious for infants and the elderly, are also down.

When flu and RSV surged in the fall, causing overloads at pediatric emergency rooms, some doctors feared that winter might bring a ” tripledemic ” of flu, RSV and COVID-19. And they worried holiday gatherings might be the spark.

But it didn’t happen, apparently.

“Right now, everything continues to decline,” said the CDC’s Lynnette Brammer, who leads the government agency’s tracking of flu in the United States.

RSV hospitalizations have been going down since November, and flu hospitalizations are down, too.

Of course, the situation is uneven across the country, and some places have more illnesses than others. But some doctors say patient traffic is easing.

“It has really eased up, considerably,” said Dr. Ethan Wiener, a pediatric ER doctor at the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone in New York City.

Dr. Jason Newland, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, said “it has slowed down, tremendously,”

Newland said he wasn’t surprised that flu and RSV continued to trend down in recent weeks, but added: “The question is what was COVID going to do?”

COVID-19 hospitalizations rose through December, including during the week after Christmas. One set of CDC data appears to show they started trending down after New Year’s, although an agency spokeswoman noted that another count indicates an uptick as of last week. Because of reporting lags it may be a few weeks until CDC can be sure COVID-19 hospitalizations have really started dropping, she said.

Newland said there was an increase in COVID-19 traffic at St. Louis Children’s in December. But he noted the situation was nothing like it was a year ago, when the then-new omicron variant was causing the largest national surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

“That was the worst,” he said.

The fall RSV and flu surge was felt most acutely at health care centers for children. Wiener said the pediatric emergency department traffic at Hassenfeld was 50% above normal levels in October, November and December — “the highest volumes ever” for that time of year, he said.

The RSV and flu surges likely faded because so many members of the vulnerable population were infected “and it just kind of burnt itself out,” he said.

It makes sense that respiratory infections could rebound amid holiday travel and gatherings, and it’s not exactly clear why that didn’t happen, Brammer said.

That said, flu season isn’t over. Thirty-six states are still reporting high or very high levels of flu activity, and it’s always possible that a second wave of illnesses is still ahead, experts said.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

1 day ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

2 days ago

Former President Donald Trump, center, appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023...

Associated Press

Manhattan court searching for jurors to hear first-ever criminal case against a former president

Jury selection is set to start Monday in former President Donald Trump's hush money case — the first trial of the presumptive nominee.

2 days ago

Emergency personnel arrive on the scene after a  an 18-wheeler crashed into the Texas Department of...

Associated Press

1 dead and 13 injured in semitrailer crash at a Texas public safety office, with the driver jailed

A driver rammed an 18-wheeler though the front of a building where his renewal for a commercial driver’s license had been rejected.

2 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Get Out The Vote rally ...

Associated Press

Trump pushes Arizona lawmakers to ‘remedy’ state abortion ruling that he says ‘went too far’

Donald Trump urged Arizona lawmakers on Friday to swiftly “remedy” the state court ruling allowing prosecutors to enforce an abortion ban.

2 days ago

Biden to require more gun dealers to run background checks....

Associated Press

Biden administration will require thousands more gun dealers to run background checks on buyers

New Biden rule to require thousands more firearms dealers across the United States will have to run background checks on buyers.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Holidays didn’t lead to feared bump in flu cases, CDC says