TUESDAY, Jan. 16, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time in months, there has been "a single-week decrease" in flu activity, according to data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But health officials warn that the flu season is far from over, with a surge expected shortly. "Folks try not to seek care during the holiday season, so we see these divots in the surveillance graphs each year, but it is very probable that during the next weeks, we'll see an upsurge of cases," Eduardo Azziz-Baumgartner, M.D., of the CDC Influenza Division, told CBS News.
Another expert concurred. "Just because we've seen cases go down a little bit in the last week doesn't mean we don't still have another bump in cases yet to come," said Céline Gounder, M.D., a CBS News medical contributor and editor-at-large for public health at KFF Health News. "Later in January, February is very often the peak of the influenza season, so just because we've seen a recent drop in flu cases doesn't mean that there aren't more to come."
So far this season, the flu has caused at least 14 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,400 deaths, according to the CDC. An additional 13 pediatric deaths were reported this week, bringing the total number to 40 for the season.
The increase in deaths among kids is worrying, Gounder noted. "Unfortunately, I think a lot of people coming out of the COVID pandemic are fatigued and tired of talking about vaccinations, getting vaccinated, but kids under 5 are very much at risk for hospitalization and even death from respiratory illnesses, including influenza, COVID, and respiratory syncytial virus," she explained.