The Flu Report: 1/21/15 January 21, 2015 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. Despite another bad week for influenza throughout the United States, there are signs that flu season may be starting to wind down. Overview: Over the last week, the number of confirmed influenza cases has declined by about one-third. Despite this decline, 52 of the 54 jurisdictions are still reporting widespread flu activity. Reports of influenza-like illness remain high, but they are now on par with (as opposed to exceeding) last season. However, these numbers are still higher than those reported during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons. According to FluNearYou.org, only 17.5% of users are reporting influenza-like illness or symptoms, below the CDC average. This discrepancy is likely due, at least in part, to a difference in reporting methodology. FluNearYou uses instantaneous, self-reported data, but the CDC measures reported cases over time. This week also marked a serious increase in flu-related deaths, topping out at 8.5%, 1.5% above the epidemic threshold. This is the first significant rise in mortality and shows the dangers of the flu virus. There were also 19 pediatric deaths, putting the total number of pediatric deaths for the 2014-2015 flu season at 45. This statistic for 2015 is higher than it was during the 2011-2012 season, but it is equivalent to the number of pediatric deaths reported last year. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 5,284 (20.2% of specimens tested) Influenza A – 5,051 (95.6%) Influenza B – 233 (4.4%) Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 8.5% (1.5% above 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: Flu trends around the world have declined according to Google Flu Trends. Most of North America is still listed as having high rates of activity, but it could soon be listed as moderate as cases appear to be on the decline. Europe, which was almost exclusively rated as high over the past few weeks, is now mainly showing low to moderate levels of activity with only Norway, the Netherlands, Russia and Austria listed as high. Japan and Spain have retained their severe ratings. Flu cases in Japan appears to be leveling off and could drop back to high during the coming weeks, but flu activity in Spain shows no signs of declining. Staying Healthy: Our tip for this week: Seek medical attention if your sickness persists. Just last week, a Wisconsin nurse became ill from the flu, developed pneumonia and sepsis, and unfortunately passed away. It is extremely important to seek medical attention if you believe you have contracted the flu and symptoms persist beyond the norm. As always, influenza vaccination is the best preventative measure to avoid the flu and the more dangerous infections that can come if an infection is not treated properly, even after vaccination. 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.