Image of a senior man recuperating in a hospital bed

Flu activity is increasing across the United States ahead of Thanksgiving, with seniors continuing to have the highest hospitalization rates, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thirty states were reporting high or very high levels of flu as of Nov. 18. Cases continued to rise in nursing homes, with 1.2% reporting one or more positive tests last week. Rates of seniors hospitalized for flu per 100,000 have also continued to steadily rise, from 0.8 to 18.6 from Oct. 8 to Nov. 12. 

In seniors aged 85 and older that number has risen to 30 in 100,000.

In addition, the cumulative hospitalization rate in the CDC’s FluSurv-NET system is higher than that of every previous season since the 2010-2011 season.

Most of the influenza viruses detected so far have been influenza A(H3N2) viruses, which tend to put the elderly and small children at the highest risk of complications. The prevalence of A(H1N1), though low, has slightly increased, the CDC noted.

So far this fall-winter season, the CDC has tracked elevated levels of not only flu, but respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) along with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. High RSV rates among children have greatly strained hospitals, leaving some short of beds and prompting health officials to promote prevention measures for all respiratory viruses. 

The CDC continues to recommend vaccination for prevention of flu and early use of antivirals in appropriate, vulnerable patients. People with chronic medical conditions, patients 65 years and older, residents of long-term care facilities, and children aged 5 years and younger are at increased risk.

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