Numerous viruses that were seemingly dormant during the pandemic are returning in new and atypical ways, CNBC reported June 10.
Flu, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, tuberculosis and monkeypox are among the viruses that have recently surged or exhibited unusual behaviors.
The U.S. saw extremely mild flu seasons in 2020-21 and 2021-22, likely due to high rates of mask-wearing, social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures. However, flu cases started to rise this February and continued to climb through the spring as more public health measures receded.
“We’ve never seen a flu season in the U.S. extend into June,” Scott Roberts, MD, associate medical director for infection prevention at Yale New Haven (Conn.) Hospital, told CNBC. “COVID has clearly had a very big impact on that. Now that people have unmasked [and] places are opening up, we’re seeing viruses behave in very odd ways that they weren’t before.”
Washington state is also reporting its most severe tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years, while the world is grappling with a monkeypox outbreak that’s affected more than 1,000 people.
These viruses, suppressed during the pandemic, now have more opportunities to spread as people resume daily life, become more social and travel more. Society, as a whole, also has less immunity against the viruses after two years of reduced exposure to them, according to the report.
The pandemic has also boosted surveillance efforts and public interest in other outbreaks, experts say.
“COVID has raised the profile of public health matters so that we are perhaps paying more attention to these events when they occur,” Jennifer Horney, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Delaware in Newark, told CNBC.
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