OUTBREAK OUTLOOK: THE GREAT NORTHEAST

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Outbreak Outlook – Northeast – October 30

By Dr. Caitlin Rivers (Reprinted with permission)

Welcome to the Northeast edition of Outbreak Outlook! It is only available to paid subscribers. If you wish to become a paid subscriber and access region-specific information, please click the Subscribe Now button below. Thanks for reading! -Caitlin

(EDITOR’S NOTE FROM JOHN BAILEY: WESTCHESTER HAS CUT THE RATE OF INFECTIONS THE FIRST 3 WEEKS IN OCTOBER 2023 BY 66% LOWER THAN THE FIRST 3 WEEKS OF OCTOBER 2022.  6,575 IN OCTOBER 2022 THROUGH OCT. 22 AND AS OF THE END OF OCTOBER 15 THROUGH  21, 2023 ONLY 2,213 WESTCHESTER PERSONS CAME DOWN WITH COVID. PROJECTING AHEAD  THIS MAY LIMIT DECEMBER INFECTIONS TO BELOW 6,000 IN DECEMBER. THE  MIDDLE OF WEEK HIGH POSITIVES HAVE DROPPED TO AN AVERAGE OF 72! LAST WEEK DELIVERED JUST 629 INFECTIONS 89 A DAY.

THE ONLY TROUBLING STAT IS WHITE PLAINS HOSPITAL FROM OCTOBER 13 TO OCTOBER 24   (11 DAYS) WAS OF 129 PATIENTS ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL 74 WERE FOUND WITH COVID—57% WITH COVID WHICH IS WHAT THE HOSPITAL IS AVERAGING.)

Respiratory diseases

Influenza-like illness

The Northeast continues to experience relatively low flu levels, though activity is beginning to pick up in some states as we enter the heart of flu season.

New York saw influenza-like illness tick up slightly over the past week from 3.5% to 3.8% of doctor’s visits. Nearby New Jersey declined from 3.6% to 3.3% ILI.

Further north, Massachusetts and Connecticut experienced minimal flu changes week-over-week, holding around 1.5% and 1.7% ILI respectively.

Maine and New Hampshire remain on the lighter side for flu activity, with ILI rates of 0.8% and 0.3%. However, Vermont did see a notable jump from 0.5% to 0.8% influenza-like illness.

Rhode Island and Pennsylvania were essentially flat, with ILI rates holding below 1.5%.

Overall flu prevalence is still relatively low across most of the Northeast as we head deeper into fall. But some states are beginning to see upticks, so do get your flu vaccine sooner rather than later.

At the national level, young kids (still!) continue to experience the highest rates of influenza-like illness. Nearly 9% of doctor visits for children aged 0-4 involve symptoms like fever, cough, or sore throat. This rate compares to approximately 4% in the 5-24 age group and less than 2% in older age groups.



RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is ramping up across the Northeast as we head into the winter virus season. Several states saw jumps in RSV prevalence over the past week. I expect test positivity to continue to rise in the weeks to come.

Massachusetts experienced one of the largest increases regionally, with RSV positivity rising from 6.2% to 7.2% of samples tested. This indicates more than 1 in 14 tests are coming back positive for RSV.

New Hampshire and Connecticut also saw sizable RSV gains over the past week. Positivity increased from 2.7% to 3.6% in New Hampshire and 2.6% to 3.1% in Connecticut.

While still lower compared to other states, New York and New Jersey reported RSV upticks as well, rising to 1.0% and 2.1% positivity respectively.

Vermont and Maine continue to show relatively low RSV activity, with positivity holding below 1% in both states.


Other Respiratory + Stomach Bugs

  • Seasonal coronavirus activity in the Northeast remains low, with no concerning increases. Adenovirus and parainfluenza virus activity appears to be trending upward slightly nationally; no data is available at the regional level.
  • Human metapneumovirus activity has picked up in the Northeast. Metapneumovirus causes cough, runny nose, fever, and sometimes wheezing or difficulty breathing.
  • Norovirus (stomach bug) activity appears to be ticking up a bit in the region, now at 5.7% from a recent low of 4.2%. It’s something I will keep an eye on, though current levels of activity still remains far below typical winter surges.

Food recalls

The following foods are being recalled because they are contaminated. Please check your cupboards and throw out any of these items:

New this week:

  • Over the counter eye drops sold at CVS, Leader, Rugby, RiteAid, Target or Velocity Pharma (more info)
  • WanaBana fruit puree pouches (more info)
  • Fresh diced onion products by Gills Onions (more info)
  • Enoki mushrooms by Qilu Enterprise (more info)
  • Lobster by Greenhead Lobster (more info)

Previously reported:

  • Bagged collard greens sold at Kroger (more info)
  • Frozen, ready to eat carne asada burritos (more info)
  • Ready-to-eat ham produced by Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats (more info)
  • Ion and Restore brands Sinus Spray (more info)
  • Organic Chicken and Beef Broth sold at Costco and Whole Foods (more info)

If you have food allergies, you may wish to review these FDA safety alerts and USDA alerts for foods with undeclared allergens.

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