The Flu Report: 12/31/14 December 31, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. Unfortunately, the last Flu Report of 2014 is a serious one as the United States has been listed as ‘severe’ for flu activity by Google Flu Trends, and more than 35 states are now listed as having widespread illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Overview: While there has been a decrease in confirmed growth of flu activity, the virus is still spreading at a rapid pace according to CDC, Google and FluNearYou.org metrics. The CDC lists only four states (California, Hawaii, Alaska and Oregon) as having less than regional average flu activity. Also, outpatient hospital visits during which the patient reports flu-like illness are on pace to be higher than 2012-2013 levels. If current trends continue, it is possible that this season could be more severe than the 2009-2010 season, the worst on record in the past five years. On a positive note, influenza-associated pediatric deaths appear to be lower than the 2012-2013 season (a comparable season in terms of infection rate, at least up until now). However, overall influenza related deaths have now hit 6.8% which is at the epidemic threshold. This is not a reason for panic as 6.8% is what would be expected at this point in the season, and the rate has, so far, been well under this number. Future data will be a better indicator as to the full severity of this year’s infection. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 6,152 (28.1% of tested specimens) Influenza A – 5,987 (97.3%) Influenza B – 165 (2.7%) Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 6.8% (at the epidemic threshold) NOTE: Flu cases, as referenced above, are confirmed cases in people who have gone to see medical professionals. Percentage estimates, referenced in the “Overview” section, include these documented cases from medical professionals but also a variety of other self-reported metrics. Around the World: North America continues with high flu activity levels, but other regions of the world have seen drastically increased flu activity. Russia and most of Eastern Europe now have high flu activity with Western Europe ranging from moderate to high levels. However, the surprise this week is Japan which Google Flu Trends has listed as having severe activity. Much like in the United States, Influenza A is most prevalent in the island nation; however, week to week numbers are not yet available. Staying Healthy: Our tip for this week: Avoid spreading infection. If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, and avoid being in highly populated areas. If your business offers sick days or a work from home program, use it to avoid getting any co-workers sick. As always, the best form or prevention is a flu shot. For additional help, 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 Wednesday and focuses on regional outbreaks, global spread and ways to avoid infection.