Flu cases are on the rise once again in the United States after reaching an all-time low last year.
The total number of cases could reach pre-pandemic levels, health experts say, potentially causing additional strain on the nation’s hospitals as they fight back a wave of COVID-19 cases fueled by the extremely contagious omicron variant.
“I think it’s quite possible that we could have what we would term ‘a normal flu season,’” said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist who leads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's domestic influenza surveillance team. “In a lot of cases, we’re already seeing more flu activity than we saw with all of last year.”
The CDC has reported more than 4,500 flu cases from clinical laboratories nationwide for the week ending Dec. 18, up from about 2,500 cases two weeks earlier. Flu experts say they expect cases to continue to increase over the next several weeks.