The Flu Report: 1/14/15 January 14, 2015 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. It has been another rough week for influenza as infection rates and deaths have risen across the nation. Flu season has not yet reached the halfway mark, but it seems that this will be one of the worst seasons on record when compared to the past few years. Overview: As of week 53 (December 29-January 3), 52 of 54 regions are reporting widespread infection. Meanwhile, influenza-like illness cases are being reported at nearly triple their baseline rate for this period, according to CDC estimates. While not all of these reported cases have tested positive for actual illness, this statistic is a significant indicator of how far flu is spreading throughout the country. FluNearYou.org self-reported data generally matches CDC reports, but it shows California, New England and parts of Texas as the high concentration areas for influenza. While CDC data shows New England and Texas as having high rates of infection, California is still listed as having just regional spread of the disease. Finally, flu-related deaths have once again risen, if only slightly, and they are now above the epidemic threshold at 7.0%. All indicators seem to point to a continued rise in this statistic over the coming weeks. Pediatric deaths have risen to 26 to date, and it is possible that there could be more pediatric flu-related deaths this season than in the 2013-2014 season which had 109 deaths. As always, children fall under the CDC’s high risk category for influenza meaning that a flu vaccination is highly suggested for any child. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 7,515 Influenza A – 7,218 (96.0% of cases) Influenza B – 297 (4.0% of cases) Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 7.0% (0.1% above 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: According to Google flu trends, influenza infection rates have declined in Canada and Mexico, but much of the world seems to be headed in the opposite direction. Russia, Spain, Austria and the Netherlands have a high rating, and Japan has retained its severe level. Poland and Bulgaria have the lowest levels of spread in Europe (and the Northern Hemisphere, generally). Flu is minimal to nonexistent in the Southern parts of the world, with the exception of Chile which has a near moderate rating. Staying Healthy: Our tip for this week: Follow your doctor’s orders. We have yet to see any drug resistant cases of influenza this season, but that does not mean some will not yet pop up. The best way to avoid these strains is by completing a full set of antibiotics that a doctor may give you. An incomplete set of antibiotics can lead to a stronger virus and eventually an antibiotic resistant one. Finishing a treatment is not just a doctor’s recommendation to help you stay healthy; it helps keep everyone else healthy as well. 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.