Happy Flu Year: U.S. Slammed with RSV, COVID-19, and Flu Cases Post-Holidays

Happy Flu Year: U.S. Slammed with RSV, COVID-19, and Flu Cases Post-Holidays

Masks on!

Thousands of people have been admitted to hospitals for respiratory illness every week of the 2023 holiday season.

Now, experts are pushing the importance of vaccinations and masks even more. Close to 30,000 patients were submitted with COVID-19, while 15,000 suffered from the flu or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) during the week ending on December 23. Numbers for the flu aren’t too far behind. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 7 million illnesses, 73,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths related to the flu this season – and several indicators are rising.

The good news is that RSV cases are slowing down in some parts of the country. Montana, Nebraska, Vermont, and West Virginia are experiencing minimal impact, while New Mexico and Southeastern states face high cases. Primarily found in young children and older adults, hospitalization rates continue to rise, so experts say it can’t entirely be ruled out.

“It’s a wave of winter respiratory pathogens, especially respiratory viruses. So, it’s Covid. It’s flu, and we can’t diminish the importance of RSV,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, said.

“So it’s a triple threat, and arguably a fourth threat because we also have pneumococcal pneumonia, which complicates a lot of these virus infections.”

There are a few racial disparities between children who have been hospitalized with suspected cases of RSV. A study published by MD Newsline found that 59% of RSV cases are found in Blacks and Hispanics. Hospitalization rates between the two demographics account for nearly 60% of all cases. Both Blacks and Hispanics are more prone to develop complications due to some of the antibiotic-resistant strains.

Vaccines and masks help reduce the risk of severe illnesses. However, other treatments such as Paxlovid and Tamiflu are helpful for patients 50 or older and those with underlying conditions like a weakened immune system, heart disease, or diabetes.