Tara Palmore, MD, an infectious disease physician and the hospital epidemiologist for George Washington University Hospital discusses the cases of the early surge in cases.
Flu and ILI levels remained low for the past two seasons, thanks in part to travel restrictions, mask mandates, school closures, and other COVID prevention measures. The current surge in the D.C. area and other states in the southern U.S. mirrors what happened in the southern hemisphere in June, July, and August — months that constitute their winter and therefore when peak flu season typically falls. Countries like Chile experienced a premature rise in the flu, tipping off epidemiologists and virologists in that the U.S. could be in store for something similar.
“What happens in the southern hemisphere doesn’t always predict what happens in the northern hemisphere with regard to influenza,” Palmore says. “That said, that is what’s happening in the northern hemisphere — we are experiencing an atypically early flu season just as they did.”