The United States is entering what may be its worst flu season in over a decade. According to weekly data published by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, respiratory symptoms including fever, cough, and sore throat were reported in 6.9% of all visits to health care providers during the week ending Dec. 10, 2022.
The percentage, used by the CDC to measure flu-, or influenza-like illnesses (ILI), is well above the national baseline of 2.5%, but down slightly from the previous two weeks when the measure surpassed peak levels of past flu seasons in the U.S. The incidence of respiratory illness remains relatively higher than the rate observed in week 49 during most previous seasons since 2010-2011.
Multiple respiratory viruses, including influenza, but also SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are co-circulating. (See how COVID fatality rates compare with other diseases.)
According to estimates from the CDC, there have been as many as 33 million illnesses, 330,000 hospitalizations, and 28,000 deaths from flu so far this season. (These are the worst epidemics and pandemics in history.)
The four states with the highest incidence of flu-like illness last week all reported rates of 10% or greater: New Mexico (17%), North Dakota (13%), Nebraska (12%), and Washington (11%). One other jurisdiction, Puerto Rico, had an incidence of flu-like illness of 11%.
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