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Flu, COVID and RSV Cases All Trending Downward — for the First Time in Months

People 1/23/2023 Rebecca Aizin

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The respiratory virus season that tore through the country this winter may be coming to a close.

Flu, COVID and RSV cases have dropped to the lowest they have been in three months, according to CNN. A new dataset from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of emergency room visits from the three respiratory illnesses combined are the lowest they've been in three months across all age groups.

Though it can be hard to measure the exact number of cases — many go unreported — experts say that looking at emergency department visits can be an effective tracking method of severity and breadth, per CNN. 

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While the U.S. was able to avoid the post-holiday spike in respiratory cases in December, there was a definite surge following Thanksgiving weekend. In the week after the holiday, emergency visits topped 235,000 — matching those of January 2022, according to CDC data.

But those cases have varied, with only a quarter being from COVID. In the week of Dec. 3, the flu made up two-thirds of visits and RSV accounted for 10%. 

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Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images © Provided by People Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

RSV particularly affects children, and started to pick up around September until it peaked in November, when 5 in every 100,000 people were hospitalized for the illness. Over-the-counter fever-reducing medication sales were 65% higher in November than previous years, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Though the cases have now declined, RSV is still more prevalent than it has been in the past.  

Meanwhile, the flu and COVID have been less prevalent. While the flu season peaked early in December, hospitalizations have declined by 25%. The number of COVID cases increased since the summer, partly because of the contagious XBB.1.5 variant — but the number of hospitalizations has also declined since November.

Experts say this likely due to the fact that most people have some form of immunization at this point.

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Only four states and Washington D.C. currently have high levels of "flu-like activity" for the week of Jan. 14, while nearly all states were in this category a month ago. Though the flu can be unpredictable, this decline in viral respiratory illnesses is a positive sign as winter bears on.

Read the original article on People

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