Flu has already begun, and the CDC has issued a season-wide warning.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that there have been more reports of flu and other respiratory diseases than is typical for this time of year in the United States.

According to the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, “we’ve seen that flu activity is starting to increase across much of the country,” particularly in the Southeast and south-central U.S.

“Last year, many people did not contract the flu, and not everyone received the flu vaccine. Thus, the possibility for a particularly bad flu season is now present.

Flu seasons typically start in December and peak in February.

The warning from Walensky comes ahead of a Friday CDC report on the spread of the virus. The FDA is expected to report that the flu and other viral infections are particularly prevalent in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

In fact, both reported cases of the flu and influenza-like diseases are on the rise, according to Dr. James Cutrell, an infectious disease specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Cutrell remarked that this applies to both children and adults.

Public health officials do not force doctors to report every positive flu test, but the CDC and others track possible flu activity by looking at “influenza-like diseases.” Those are those who have a fever of at least 100 degrees together with an unrelated cough and/or sore throat.

According to NBC affiliate KNSD reported, a San Diego school district reported “hundreds” of absences at a nearby high school on Wednesday, most likely as a result of an influenza outbreak. The majority of children reported having a cough, sore throat, congestion, and fever.

The station said that thus far, tests for Covid have come up negative. However, several students have tested influenza positive.

According to KNSD reporting, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, deputy public health officer for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, said, “Unfortunately, we predicted this would be a terrible influenza season.” Other respiratory viruses are rapidly resurfacing in addition to Covid-19.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is one example of this.

According to Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious diseases specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, “right now, we’re in a major spike of RSV.” RSV frequently affects young children, but it can also be harmful to adults who have underlying lung conditions such asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

RSV cases are typically found around December and January, according to Esper, but during the past two years, the average RSV season has started earlier, in the summer and early fall. Additionally, enteroviruses and rhinoviruses are spreading sooner than usual. This is due to the fact that Covid-control methods prevented other infections from spreading as they typically do.

Flu cases are increasing, but so are all of these other viruses that were thrown off balance, according to Esper. This could represent the new normal. We are unsure.

RSV cannot be prevented with a vaccine, but influenza can. According to Walensky, “approximately 12 million flu shots have been given in pharmacies and doctor’s offices so far this year.”

She acknowledged that vaccine fatigue may have contributed to the reduced rate thus far, but that number is still slightly lower than the number of doses administered at this time last year.

The entire protective effect of a flu shot takes roughly two weeks to manifest. Everyone over the age of six months should receive an annual flu shot, according to the CDC.

The goal is to safeguard people before the virus breaks out in their own neighborhoods, according to Walensky.
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