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Health

Flu season raged on Thanksgiving


Editor’s Note: See cold and flu activity in your area with the WebMD tracker.

Dec. 2, 2022 — The flu virus made the most of the Thanksgiving holiday by reaching the highest level of national activity seen since the 2017-18 flu season, according to the CDC.

The largest one-week increase in what is becoming an unprecedented flu season had flu-like activity at 7.5% for the week of Nov. 20-26, as measured by the proportion of outpatient visits reported to the CDC involving respiratory illness, which can also include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.

This 7.5% is the highest level of flu-like activity recorded in the United States since early February 2018, at the height of the 2017-18 flu season, and the highest rate recorded in November since the CDC began tracking this data in 1997. Influenza-like activity peaked at 7.7% in October 2009, but then fell below 7% in the first week of November and did not increase for the rest of this season, according to CDC data.s.

There are more signs of a more severe flu or flu-like season this year. 2011, the CDC said.

The high rate of hospitalizations from Nov. 20-26 is nearly double the numbers from the previous week, the CDC noted in its weekly Fluview report.

So far this season, the CDC estimates, “there have been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from influenza.” In 2018-19, the last full flu season before COVID, there were 148 deaths in the first 8 weeks, based on CDC data.

Influenza-like activity at the state and territory levels, which the CDC ranks on a scale of 1 to 13 — from minimal (1-3) to very high (11-13) — places 31 states at very high for the week, compared to 19 the previous week. Only New Hampshire and the Northern Mariana Islands fall within the minimum range, according to the CDC.


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