Unprecedented and Unpredictable: What Businesses Can Learn From the 2022-23 Flu Season

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 11:00 AM CST

Operations teams need to adapt germ protection strategies, say experts at Lysol Pro Solutions and BlueDot

PARSIPPANY, N.J., Jan. 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2022-23 flu season, marked by unprecedented unpredictability and a higher-than-usual volume of cases, offers businesses important learnings on how to protect their staff and patrons in the workplace, according to new analysis1 conducted by scientists and data experts from Reckitt's Lysol Pro Solutions and BlueDot.

Reckitt logo (PRNewsfoto/Reckitt)
Reckitt logo (PRNewsfoto/Reckitt)(PRNewswire)

Reckitt's Lysol Pro Solutions, a science-led business to business offering, and BlueDot Inc., the leading artificial and human intelligence organization for detecting, assessing, and responding to global infectious diseases, analyzed the spread and burden of flu in the U.S. during the current season compared to previous years. The analysis1 found the following:


  • 72% of U.S. states* observed a higher-than-usual volume of flu cases during the current season, compared to the mean burden of flu observed between 2015-2019.1
  • 90% of U.S. states* reported an earlier-than-usual start to the current flu season, and the peak volume of cases occurred earlier than would be expected.1 2
  • Multiple-wave patterns from countries in the southern hemisphere such as Australia – often a predictor of the season in the U.S. because the seasons are inverted – indicate a potential emerging second wave later in the current season. A double-wave pattern was also observed in the U.S. in 2018-2019, driven by two different influenza A subtypes.1


  • The combined burden of flu with COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) resulted in peak hospitalization rates greater than any period during the pandemic, with the exception of the Omicron wave (early 2022).1
  • A compounding factor adding to this burden has been the increase in invasive group A strep (iGAS) infections among children in the U.S., which is currently being investigated by the CDC.3

"As anticipated, we've observed an unusually early start to the 2022-23 influenza season which has burdened our healthcare systems at an already vulnerable time," said Dr. Andrea Thomas, Director, Epidemiology at BlueDot. "While flu cases are currently subsiding, we have observed that some countries in the southern hemisphere experienced a second wave approximately five to six months after the first peak in cases during their first substantial flu seasons since the pandemic began. These waves were driven by different flu strains. Given that most cases so far have been influenza A strains and there has been very little exposure to the flu over the last few years, it is possible that a second wave of flu could occur, potentially driven by influenza B. This underscores the need for businesses and citizens to remain active in preventative health measures, and it is not too late to obtain a flu vaccine if individuals have not already done so."

For operations teams that are responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of facilities, the following learnings can be applied to help protect staff and patrons:

  • The typically predictable timings for flu season may no longer be accurate, reinforcing the need for a high-level of germ protection throughout the year.
  • With the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the surges in RSV and streptococcus A (strep A), this winter showed that flu is no longer the only respiratory virus threat in the workplace. Businesses should understand the difference between how these different viruses are transmitted and deploy effective prevention strategies that address spread through both surfaces and air.
  • Cleaning teams should place an added focus on cleaning and disinfecting high-touch, high-traffic areas in business facilities, and the surfaces in those areas that are more prone to harboring germs, such as shared conference room tables and equipment.

"The current flu season has been a challenging and uncertain time for businesses. – but the learnings from it can help reduce the burden of respiratory viruses this year, and beyond," said Dr. Julie McKinney, Director of Research and Development at Reckitt's Lysol Pro Solutions. "In an environment where companies are facing widespread labor shortages and cost pressures, maintaining worker productivity and optimizing operational efficiencies are key priorities across the board. By keeping abreast of the ever-changing nature of how different respiratory viruses and bacteria can threaten the workplace, businesses can develop effective prevention strategies that use the right products, in the right areas, and at the right frequency to help protect their people, reduce worker sick days, and improve efficiency."

* Data used was dependent upon publicly available data provided by official government sources. Sufficiency was evaluated based on whether there was an adequate amount of data to compare trends between seasons. Analysis omits Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Florida, South Dakota, Washington D.C., and data from New York City.


Reckitt's Lysol Pro Solutions harnesses the power of Lysol to help protect businesses and public spaces from the spread of germs. In today's world, consumers have increased hygiene expectations which makes germ-protection more critical than ever. The comprehensive approach from Lysol Pro Solutions incorporates science-backed protocols and training, EPA-approved Lysol products and Lysol-branded marketing materials and signage. Lysol Pro Solutions empowers businesses to demonstrate to their staff and customers a commitment to providing a trusted standard for protection.


Reckitt* exists to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. We believe that access to the highest-quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment is a right, not a privilege.

Reckitt is the company behind some of the world's most recognisable and trusted consumer brands in hygiene, health and nutrition, including Air Wick, Calgon, Cillit Bang, Clearasil, Dettol, Durex, Enfamil, Finish, Gaviscon, Harpic, Lysol, Mortein, Mucinex, Nurofen, Nutramigen, Strepsils, Vanish, Veet, Woolite and more.

Every day, more than 20 million Reckitt products are bought globally. We always put consumers and people first, seek out new opportunities, strive for excellence in all that we do and build shared success with all our partners. We aim to do the right thing, always.

We are a diverse global team of c. 40,000 colleagues. We draw on our collective energy to meet our ambitions of purpose-led brands, a healthier planet and a fairer society. Find out more or get in touch with us at www.reckitt.com/us.

*Reckitt is the trading name of the Reckitt Benckiser group of companies


BlueDot's intelligence platform empowers public and private sector organizations to rapidly identify, understand, and effectively respond to global biothreats. Combining human and artificial intelligence to track hundreds of infectious diseases and syndromes worldwide, it applies academic data science expertise to anticipate global spread and impact. BlueDot ensures clients know first when disease events emerge, are prepared to respond, can focus on what matters, and can act swiftly and confidently when needed. Founded in 2013 and used by the City of Chicago, Taiwan CDC, Air Canada and more, BlueDot helps clients make critical decisions with clarity and confidence. Learn more at www.bluedot.global.

1 Research designed for Reckitt's Lysol Pro Solutions by BlueDot Inc.
2 Calculation based on timeframe of initial increase in flu case activity leading up to the seasonal peaks between 2015-2019
3 https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/igas-infections-investigation.html

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