Influenza, COVID-19, RSV: The reason behind the widespread illness.

If you’ve been feeling unwell recently, you’re not alone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there's been a sustained elevation in seasonal influenza activity across the nation, with over 20,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations recorded last week. Despite a decrease in flu-related hospital admissions reported on Friday, other metrics have risen, such as the prevalence of respiratory illnesses in numerous states.

The CDC noted a 16.2% increase in cases compared to the previous week, with some regions of the United States experiencing a resurgence of the flu virus after a period of apparent decline at the national level.

Alicia Budd from the CDC’s flu surveillance team highlighted regional disparities, stating, "Nationally, we can say we've peaked, but on a regional level it varies. A couple of regions haven’t peaked yet."

Educational institutions have also expressed worry about the significant number of student absences attributed to various illnesses.

But what's driving the surge in hospitalizations and respiratory ailments?

Elevated flu and COVID-19 cases Tracking flu activity during the flu season relies partly on reports of individuals with flu-like symptoms seeking medical attention. However, many flu cases go untested, resulting in underreporting.

The presence of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses further complicates the situation. Alicia Budd observed "continued increases" in flu cases, emphasizing the complexity of the situation.

Different strains of the flu virus circulate each year, with the predominant strain this season typically causing fewer hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly, who are typically most affected by the flu.

Declining vaccine uptake for flu and COVID-19 Health experts have noted a trend of increasing numbers of people foregoing pandemic-related precautions, including vaccination against flu and COVID-19, which may contribute to the uptick in illnesses.

Libby Richards, an associate professor at Purdue University School of Nursing, commented, "Pandemic precautions… those things are dwindling. And hence we're being exposed to more respiratory viruses than we have last year."

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