Flu cases are low nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday, but there are early signs that the virus is beginning to spread.
“Even these low levels will probably increase in the next couple of weeks,” said Alicia Budd, head of the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team.
That is typical for flu seasons, which tend to ramp up by December and peak in February. Budd said that the agency is not detecting the unusually early rise in flu activity that occurred last year, when kids and teenagers were hit especially hard.
Most of the flu cases reported so far this season are influenza type A, specifically the H1N1 strain.
A CDC report released Thursday found that children were “disproportionately impacted” by the flu last year. One of the study’s authors, Danielle Iuliano, also a senior research epidemiologist at the CDC, said that the numbers of flu-related pediatric doctors’ visits and hospitalizations were higher during the 2022-23 flu season than in previous years.
Nearly all of those cases were flu type A, mostly H3N2. Just under 20% were classified as H1N1.
“Given what we saw last year,” Iuliano said, “vaccinating kids is really important to prevent them from getting sick, prevent them from being hospitalized and having the most severe outcomes.”
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot, and say that now is the time to make that appointment.