Healthcare organizations call for federal emergency declaration in response to RSV, flu surge

WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than four-million cases of the flu have been reported across the country so far this season.


Experts say that number is higher than usual for this time of year, and is expected to grow as what’s considered the peak of the flu season hasn’t even arrived.

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As people travel and see family for Thanksgiving, doctors say it will likely cause flu cases to explode over the next week.

According to the CDC, 27 states across the country are already reporting “high” or “very high” flu levels.

Typically, flu rates don’t start to rise until December or January.

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Taya Bradley, Executive Vice President of the Washington State Hospital Association, says hospitals are feeling the brunt of the spike.

“Many are exceeding 100-percent of their available capacity,” Bradley said. “This is especially true for pediatric emergency departments.”

Bradley says that’s due, in part, to other illnesses as well as the flu.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics joined with the Children’s Hospital Association to ask the federal government for a formal emergency declaration.

They say health professionals have seen an alarming surge of pediatric respiratory illnesses and that health providers and systems need support.

The problem is only expected to get worse due to the number of people traveling.

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“These viruses do behave differently,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said. “We’re seeing the flu peak early now. Will it stay high for a long time? Will it come down quickly? That’s part of what we’re looking for.”

There is some good news. In some communities where there has been a quick rise in the flu, there’s also been a rapid decline.

“Definitely in this cough and cold season, really staying vigilant about your own health and the health of others is going to be key,” Dr. Mahdee Sobhanie of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said.

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Another challenge to facing the flu this season has been the  treatment.

Currently, some pharmacists say they’re seeing a short supply of some medicines used to treat the illness or other symptoms.

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