The Flu Report: 10/31/2014 October 31, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. As we celebrate Halloween and move deeper into the influenza season, the number of flu infections is increasing slightly but still not enough to drastically raise infection rates. Overview: The American South still leads country in flu spread, but the Northwest is starting to catch up, according to the CDC’s FluView. CDC estimates place flu penetration at 4.3%, while Flunearyou.org reports a slightly lower infection rate, but this is not surprising considering that FluNearYou relies on self-reported data. So far, it appears 2014 may be a lighter flu season than in past years, but it is still too early in the season to make any sweeping generalizations. Notably, almost 75% of reported flu cases so far have been Influenza A variants. Of that large percentage, only 1.3% of those cases have been an H1N1 strain. Hopefully, this number will stay that low as the season progresses. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases – 320 Flu-related Deaths – 5.5% of all deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to Pneumonia and influenza. No influenza-related pediatric deaths have been reported. NOTE: Flu cases, as referenced above, are confirmed cases in people who have gone to see medical professionals. Percentage estimates from FluNearYou.org, referenced in the “Overview” section, include these documented cases from medical professionals but also a variety of other self-reported metrics. Around the World: Influenza rates seem to be decreasing worldwide, according to Google Flu Trends. The United States is showing a low to mild rating, and the Eastern European countries that previously showed moderate infection rates have declined to the upper end of mild. The reason for the decline is as yet unknown, but it is definitely a positive global health indicator. Staying Healthy: Our tip for this week: Get a FluBlok flu shot! For some individuals with allergies, an egg-based flu shot isn’t an option, but FluBlok is a completely egg-free vaccine that just this week was approved for use in the 50+ years of age population. Now, anyone 18 and older may receive this cutting edge vaccine. This is a huge step forward for older adults with egg allergies, who perhaps could not get immunized before. For additional information about this and other influenza vaccines, contact a Passport Health flu professional at 1-888-499-PASS (7277), and we’ll help you schedule your flu vaccination today. The Flu Report is a weekly blog post designed to give updates on the spread of influenza throughout the year. It is posted every Friday and focuses on regional outbreaks, global spread and ways to avoid infection.