US saw low-severity flu season: 6 CDC report notes

The overall severity of the 2021-22 flu season was low, though elevated flu activity lasted longer than usual, according to the CDC's summary report of this year's flu season published July 22. 

The report covers flu trends from October through June. 

Flu levels remained elevated through mid-June, with two distinct waves, the first of which peaked in mid-December and the second from mid-March to May. Typically, flu season peaks in February. 

Five more report notes: 

1. Clinical laboratories tested nearly 2.9 million respiratory specimens for influenza viruses this season. Of those specimens, 4.5 percent were positive, mostly for influenza A. The percent positivity rate each week ranged from 0.1 percent to 9.9 percent. The peak positivity rate was the lowest in at least 25 years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC said. 

2. More than 5,000 lab-confirmed flu patient hospitalizations were reported to the CDC's Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network. Separately, more than 62,300 influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported to HHS. The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 17.3 per 100,000 population. 

3. The weekly percentage of long-term care facilities that reported at least one positive flu test result among residents ranged from 0.1 percent to 1.4 percent. 

4. About 72 percent of 387,112 deaths due to pneumonia, influenza or COVID-19 listed COVID-19 as an underlying or contributing cause of death. This indicates the death rate for respiratory illness during flu season was primarily due to COVID-19 and not the flu. 

5. The CDC estimates there were between 8 million and 13 million symptomatic flu cases this season; 3.7 million to 6.1 million medical visits; 82,000 to 170,000 hospitalizations; and 5,000 to 14,000 deaths. There were 31 flu-related pediatric deaths reported to the CDC from October through June.

Click here to view the full flu season summary report. 

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