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Health

Rise in seasonal illnesses sparks concern among health officials amid holiday travel

If you’re going out of town for vacation, be aware.

In the past month alone, health officials said they have seen a significant increase in certain seasonal illnesses across the country:

  • A 200% increase in flu cases in 44 states
  • A 60% increase in RSV cases
  • A 50% increase in COVID-19 cases

COVID data shows that people over 65 are the group most at risk of hospitalization and death.

RELATED | Rising RSV cases prompt masking mandate at some Western Washington hospitals

“A lot of times during the winter we’re moving indoors, we’re close to each other,” said ABC medical correspondent Dr. Darien Sutton. “This increases transmission and of course leads to infection.”

According to the most recent data from the Washington State Department of Health, flu activity in the state is still low. Nine people have died this flu season. COVID-19 cases are stable.

Doctors are concerned, however, that the number of pregnant women vaccinated is down almost 15% compared to last year.

RELATED | Human trials of universal flu vaccine could begin as COVID and flu cases begin to rise

“Having the flu during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, preterm labor and miscarriage,” Sutton said. “It is therefore vital and important that pregnant women get vaccinated.”

Health care providers are also monitoring a new COVID-19 variant that now causes more than 30% of coronavirus cases in the Northeast.

The good news?

“It doesn’t seem to escape the methods that we have here that we know are valid for protection in terms of up-to-date masking on vaccines,” Sutton said.

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