Infectious Disease Update November, 2022 – Stay Informed, Stay Safe

By: Tammy Doukas, Chief Science Officer

The US is currently experiencing a surge and co-circulation of respiratory viruses, particularly in children. As we head into the holiday season and the gatherings and celebrations that come with it, it’s important to stay informed so you can make the right choices for you and your team. Here are some key facts on viruses you should be aware of and information on what you can do to protect yourself.  

Influenza A 

Hospitalization rates for influenza A are at the highest level since the 2010-2011 flu season. At public health labs throughout the US, approximately 2/3 of all positive flu tests are influenza type A H3N2 and 1/3 are influenza type A H1N1. H3N2 is currently responsible for 2 pediatric deaths in the US this season. 

What can you do? Consider influenza testing and vaccination. If you have any respiratory symptoms, regardless of test result, stay home. 

For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm 

Poliovirus 

Live vaccine-derived poliovirus infections are on the rise in parts of Africa and the Middle East. Although polio outbreaks typically do not affect the US, a traveler to New York spurred a regional outbreak in summer 2022. Community transmission was measured by positive contacts and by detection of the virus in regional wastewater. The effectivity of the polio vaccine limited the outbreak. 

(Note: the US uses the killed virus polio vaccine, which does not spread to others. Some developing nations still utilize the live polio vaccine, which is highly protective to those vaccinated, but which may infect contacts who are not vaccinated.) 

What can you do? If you have been vaccinated, you are likely protected. If you are concerned with your level of immunity, you can talk to your doctor to: 1. Request a blood test that will provide an answer to your level of immunity, 2. Request a one-time polio booster. 

For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7144e2.htm 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus 

Unseasonably high levels of RSV are circulating throughout the US, causing a high number of hospital admissions, particularly among the very young, very old, and those with inflammatory airways, such as asthmatics. 

What can you do? There is no vaccine for RSV. But if you or especially your child are at risk, then speak with your doctor and consider testing for RSV. If you have any respiratory symptoms, regardless of test result, stay home. 

For more information, visit: https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2022/han00479.asp 

Rhinoviruses/Enteroviruses 

Pediatric hospitalizations in kids with severe respiratory illness testing positive for rhinovirus and/or enterovirus (RV/EV) have been on the rise. Pediatric surveillance sites are reporting a higher proportion of EV-D68 positivity in kids who are RV/EV positive compared to previous years. EV-D68 causes respiratory illness indistinguishable from a common cold, but it is associated with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in some patients, resulting in limb weakness/paralysis similar to poliovirus. 

What can you do? There is no vaccine for EV-D68 or other rhinoviruses/enteroviruses. There is only 1 approved test for EV-D68, available only through the CDC test lab, so if you are concerned, contact your doctor. If you have any respiratory symptoms, stay home. 

For more information, visit: https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2022/han00474.asp 

SARS-CoV-2 and other Coronaviruses 

Many respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease COVID-19), and other coronaviruses are on the rise. 

What you can do? Consider SARS-CoV-2 testing and vaccination. There are no readily available tests for other common coronaviruses. If you have any respiratory symptoms, regardless of SARS-CoV-2 test result, stay home. 

For more information, visit: https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2022/han00479.asp 

In addition to the respiratory viruses listed above, monkeypox is another virus actively circulating in the US: 

Monkeypox 

As of Nov 10, there have been 28,881 recorded cases including 11 fatalities from monkeypox in the US, and 79,231 documented cases around the world with a total of 49 fatalities. California has the most recorded cases in the US (5547), followed by New York (4134). 

What can you do? If you are in a high risk group, the JYNNEOS vaccine is available. 

For more information, visit: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Monkeypox-Vaccines.aspx 

Make sure your team is protected and keep your employees safe and productive throughout the holiday season. 

Lookout Health provides easy, convenient mobile vaccine clinics, including flu and COVID boosters. Give your employees peace of mind and reduce costly sick days. Book your clinic today