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Indications for a Severe Influenza Season

09/29/2022

Houston Methodist Hospital has reported a sharp increase in the number of cases of influenza.  Their ER treated 226 cases in the week ending September 15th.  According to the Medical Director of Diagnostic Microbiology, Dr. Wesley Long, “We experienced an early uptick in mid-September but these numbers we usually see in December, not now.”

 

The early rise in cases in Texas confirms previous warnings that the 2022-2023 season will be challenging.  This is based on experience in Australia during their winter that usually reflects future incidence rates in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

The past two influenza seasons have been relatively mild in the U.S. due to the public health precautions imposed to prevent COVID.  Dr. Lorraine Washer, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology at Michigan Medicine, noted, “With return to normal levels of social interaction, higher transmission of flu is likely this season.” 

 

Accordingly, egg-production companies are urged to arrange for immunization of all employees, especially those working with live poultry to prevent a possible recombination event. Delivery drivers have a high probability of exposure and should be protected. Packing plant workers are frequently in close proximity on packers and in break rooms. Comprehensive immunization reduces absenteeism and protects workers from undesirable complications of influenza especially for those with predisposing conditions.