The 2022 holiday season did not lead to surges in respiratory disease transmissions, contrary to what experts anticipated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Friday that based on new U.S. government data, reported doctor visits and transmissions of flu-like illnesses did not witness a significant rise, the Associated Press reported.
Instead, the reported cases fell for the sixth straight week after the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections surged in the fall.
“Right now, everything continues to decline,” the CDC’s Lynnette Brammer, who leads the agency’s effort to track flu cases in the U.S., said.
Last November, public health and medical experts feared the worst for the holiday season as they anticipated a “tripledemic” of the flu, RSV and COVID-19.
At the time, data from the Health and Human Services Department showed that flu hospitalizations increased nearly 30% in a week, with more than 11,200 people getting hospitalized due to the flu virus in the week ending Nov. 19.
However, health authorities said this week that flu and RSV hospitalizations have been going down since November in most places. In other places, more illnesses were reported. But doctors noted that patient traffic is already easing.
The news did not come as a surprise since the CDC announced mid-December that experts were seeing the first signs of flu activity slowing down during the holidays.
The week after Thanksgiving, hospitalizations dropped 10% after the country recorded the season’s worst figures the week prior.
Dr. Ethan Weiner, a pediatric ER doctor at the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone in New York City, told the Associated Press this week that the flu and RSV cases “eased up, considerably.”
He surmised that the surges likely dwindled because many members of the vulnerable population got infected, “and it just kind of burned itself out.”
It’s also worth noting that throughout the ordeal, public health authorities have been very active in encouraging the public to get vaccinated against the viruses, especially SARS-CoV-2.
Nevertheless, experts warned that the flu season is far from over. What they expected to happen over the holidays could still unfold in the weeks ahead.