Times Union: Capital Region Medical Providers Brace for a Long Flu Season

For the past two years, flu has taken a back seat to COVID-19. That is, until now.

Arthur Gran, M.D., Troy Infectious Disease, spoke to the Albany Times Union about the flu’s early arrival in the Capital Region and whether or not we can expect a severe influenza season.

From the article:

Medical providers in the Capital Region say they anticipate flu and other respiratory diseases will likely return to pre-pandemic levels this winter — or close to it.

“The flu season has a range of six months when it’s endemic and that’s between October and April. Some years, we see a later flu season and some years we see an earlier season,” said Dr. Arthur Gran, an infectious disease specialist at Samaritan Hospital. “The fact that you are seeing cases early in the year doesn’t mean it’s going to be a horrible flu season, but it does suggest that it’s probably going to be a longer flu season.”

Flu levels were nearly nonexistent in 2020-2021, when the COVID-19 health crisis forced a massive shutdown of public spaces, social distancing and universal masking. Last year, flu figures crept up, with rates jumping in mid-December, but the flu activity never reached the 2019-2020 peak, according to the state’s flu records.

Of 68,017 specimens tested for influenza during the week ending Nov. 12, 11,670, or 17 percent, were positive. That’s a 47 percent increase over the previous week, according to the report.

The number of patients hospitalized with lab-confirmed influenza was 621, a 43 percent increase over the previous week, state records show.  There have been no influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported this season.

At the same time, local hospitals continue to see an influx of children with respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, which has been surging across the nation since late summer.

It’s common for hospitals to see a confluence of respiratory illnesses, in addition to the flu, as the weather cools.

COVID-19, while still circulating in New York, appears to be declining in the Capital Region, according to the state’s most recent coronavirus hospitalization numbers.

“COVID hasn’t been as seasonal and COVID-19 activity has been pretty stable in recent months. So we are not seeing a spike in COVID-19 as we are with the flu,”  Gran said.

Click here to read the full article.

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