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Respiratory illnesses slam US: “Perfect storm for a terrible holiday season”

An intensive care nurse cares for a patient suffering from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), who is being ventilated in the children's intensive care unit of the Olga Hospital of the Stuttgart Clinic in Germany.

Enlarge / An intensive care nurse cares for a patient suffering from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), who is being ventilated in the children’s intensive care unit of the Olga Hospital of the Stuttgart Clinic in Germany. (credit: Getty | picture alliance)

With SARS-CoV-2 still circulating and seasonal viruses, including influenza and RSV, making up for lost time during the pandemic, the US is getting slammed by respiratory illnesses. And things could get worse as more holidays and associated gatherings approach, health officials warned Monday.

“This year’s flu season is off to a rough start. Flu’s here, it started early and with COVID and RSV also circulating, it’s a perfect storm for a terrible holiday season,” Sandra Fryhofer, chair of the American Medical Association and adjunct medicine professor at Emory University School of Medicine, said in a press briefing held by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today. “Over the last few years, COVID-protective measures also prevented spread of flu and other respiratory infections, but we’re really no longer in that bubble.”

Cases of influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) are soaring throughout the country, with 47 states seeing “very high” or “high” activity levels, according to the latest CDC data. The agency estimates that there have been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu.

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