US respiratory virus levels remain high as flu rises in central states

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Respiratory illness levels in the United States remained high but stable last week, with flu activity rising in some regions of the country and indicators declining for both COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its latest data updates.

Flu on the rise in central states

Test positivity for flu declined nationally but is increasing in the Central region, an area that includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, the CDC said in its weekly respiratory virus snapshot.

Influenza B detections increased, a pattern often seen in the latter part of the US flu season. Of respiratory samples that were positive for flu at public health labs last week, 65.7% were influenza A, and 34.3% were influenza B, the CDC said in its weekly FluView update. Of subtyped influenza A samples, 55% were 2009 H1N1, and 45% were H3N2.

Outpatient visits for flulike illness held steady compared to the week before, and hospitalizations for flu also remained level and are highest in seniors.

Flu deaths overall remained stable, and the CDC received reports of two more pediatric flu deaths, raising the season's total to 93. Both occurred during the first half of February and were linked to influenza B.

COVID wastewater detections highest in the South

The nation's COVID indicators continued downward trends, and of the two severity markers, hospitalizations declined 10.3% compared to a week ago, with deaths down 8.7% during the same period.

Early indicators also declined, with test positivity declining by 0.9% to 7.4% nationally. The level is a bit higher in the Southeast. Emergency department (ED) visits for COVID fell 14.6% compared to the previous week and are highest in infants younger than 12 months and seniors.

Wastewater SARS-CoV-2 detections, another early marker, are still considered high. Southern states are still reporting the highest detections, but the trend is declining. The level in the Midwest held steady, while downward trends occurred in other regions.

The CDC today also released its latest variant projections, which show that JN.1 makes up 92.3% of samples. Two JN.1 offshoots, still at very low levels, showed slightly higher proportions compared to 2 weeks ago. They are JN.1.13 and JN.1.18.

RSV activity continues to decline

The CDC said RSV activity continues a downward trend in all parts of the country, with hospitalizations also dropping in infants and seniors—the two groups at highest risk for the disease. ED visits from RSV are highest in infants under 12 months old.

Test positivity for RSV is at 3.8% nationally, according to the CDC's latest figures. Deaths from the virus remain stable at 0.1%.

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