New flu hospitalizations spike nearly 74% in one week: 8 FluView notes

Nearly 20,000 lab-confirmed flu patients in the U.S. were hospitalized for the week ending Nov. 26, up from 11,269 flu patients admitted the week prior, according to the CDC's latest FluView report

Hospitals have started to see an influx of flu patients in their intensive care units, and in North Texas, flu hospitalizations now outnumber COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Health experts anticipate flu activity will continue to rise in the coming weeks. 

The CDC's latest report estimates there have been at least 8.7 million flu illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 flu-related deaths. That's up from the estimated 6.2 million cases, 53,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths estimated the week prior

Seven more notes: 

1. Most states and regions are reporting very high (31) or high (16) levels of flu activity. Hawaii and West Virginia are reporting moderate levels. Alaska, Michigan and Vermont are the only states reporting low flu activity, and New Hampshire the only state reporting minimal activity. 

2. Two flu-associated pediatric deaths were reported to the CDC for the week ending Nov. 26. This brings the total number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths to 14 for the 2022-23 season.

3. The overall cumulative hospitalization rate is 16.6 per 100,000 — the highest it's been this early in the season since the 2010-11 flu season. 

4. Clinical laboratories tested 130,584 specimens for influenza for the week ending Nov. 26. Of those, 25.1 percent were positive, most of which for influenza A. The positivity rate was 18.2 percent the previous week.

5. The percentage of visits to an outpatient provider for influenza-like illness — meaning fever plus cough or sore throat, not lab-confirmed flu — was 7.5 percent for the week ending Nov. 26. This is above the national baseline of 2.5 percent.

6. Nationwide, 2.6 percent of 13,991 long-term care facilities reported at least one flu-positive test among residents for the week ending Nov. 26.

7. The national flu, pneumonia and/or COVID-19 mortality rate is 9.7 percent, which sits above the epidemic threshold of 6.5 percent for the week. Among the 1,801 deaths reported for the week, 792 had COVID-19 and 99 had the flu listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death. "While current [flu, pneumonia and/or COVID-19] mortality is due primarily to COVID-19, the proportion due to influenza remains small but is increasing," the CDC said.

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