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Rising Respiratory Virus Cases in the U.S.: A Comprehensive Look

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Medriva Correspondents
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Rising Respiratory Virus Cases in the U.S.: A Comprehensive Look

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Across the United States, the prevalence of respiratory virus cases is on the rise. Certain states, notably South Carolina and Louisiana, are experiencing the highest levels of these illnesses. In addition, the states of Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Tennessee are also witnessing very high levels of respiratory virus activity. The past nine days have seen a significant rise in the number of states reporting high activity, from previously 17 to several more. Interestingly, Minnesota has been reported as the state with the lowest level of respiratory cases, compared to the other 49 states. This information underscores the widespread impact of respiratory illnesses across the U.S., and the varying severity in different states.

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Elevated Influenza Activity and Increased Resistance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza activity is currently elevated and continues to rise in most parts of the U.S. There have been positive cases reported for influenza A H1N1, with 11 jurisdictions witnessing moderate activity and 25 jurisdictions experiencing high or very high activity. There has been an increase in the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories, with certain regions showing the highest percent positivity. Of concern, antiviral susceptibility testing has revealed high levels of resistance to adamantanes among influenza A H1N1 pdm09 and influenza A H3N2 viruses. The U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network is actively monitoring outpatient visits for respiratory illness, including influenza-like illness (ILI), and provides integrated information about COVID-19, influenza, and RSV activity.

The Rising Threat of Multiple Respiratory Viruses

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In addition to the flu, other respiratory viruses such as RSV, and COVID-19 are also on the rise in the U.S. As Americans prepare for holiday gatherings, vaccination rates are lagging, and the CDC is closely monitoring the JN.1 COVID variant, which accounts for 21% of new cases in the U.S. Some health systems have reinstated mask mandates due to the rise in respiratory viruses. However, hospitals have become better equipped to handle potential surges of patients, and individuals are recommended to follow mitigation measures for traveling and hosting holiday gatherings.

The Importance of Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Activity Tracking

The CDC tracks ILI activity levels in each state and presents a weekly flu surveillance report. Data on ILI activity can provide an understanding of how many people have respiratory symptoms in a state. It is important to note that while the flu and COVID-19 are different illnesses, they can have similar symptoms and can be challenging to differentiate without a test.

The First Pediatric Death from a Respiratory Illness in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has confirmed the first pediatric death from a respiratory illness, specifically Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 are circulating at significant levels in Wisconsin, with RSV activity increasing among children under 5 years old and influenza sharply increasing in school-aged children. As a result, DHS is encouraging everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated and take preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness. It is crucial for individuals ages 60 and older, pregnant individuals, and caregivers of children younger than 19 months to consult their health care provider to determine if RSV vaccination or preventive treatment is recommended for them.

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