The Flu Report: 2/11/15 February 11, 2015 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. This week’s Flu Report shows another decline in influenza spread throughout the United States, but, globally, some regions of the world are still being pummeled by the virus. Overview: Influenza infections are down for the fifth consecutive week in the United States, but flu-related deaths remain above the epidemic threshold. Despite the high number of flu-related deaths, the decline in flu spread over the last few weeks gives hope that this season may not be as bad as initially anticipated. A CDC heat map for influenza-like-illness activity shows the southernmost parts of the Midwest and New England as hotbeds of flu activity, but other regions of the country, namely the South and northern Midwest states, have a low to moderate rating. This information correlates with past weeks’ reports from FluNearYou.org which tracks flu activity through user information in ‘real-time’. The site currently shows extremely reduced activity being reported throughout most of the country, so we are hopeful the downward trend will continue. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 3,869 (17.5% of specimens tested) Influenza A – 3,535 (91.4%) Influenza B – 334 (8.6%) Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 8.5% (1.3% 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: North America is nearing a moderate level of flu activity almost everywhere, according to Google Flu Trends. However, even though influenza is on the decline in the Americas, flu activity in Europe is worsening. Almost all of Western Europe has a severe to high classification with only Poland and Bulgaria listed as low and the Ukraine as moderate. A World Health Organization source shows that 49 percent of tested specimens are coming back positive (compare to 17.5% in the US). If you plan on traveling to Europe in the near future, receiving a flu shot before your trip is highly recommended. Staying Healthy: Our tip for this week is an advisory. The CDC has reported that H5N2, H5N8 and H5N1 bird flu strains have been found in birds in five states (CA, ID, OR, UT, and WA). While no human cases have been reported, and all flocks identified to have the strains have been destroyed, bird flu is something to be aware of. Be sure to keep an eye out for further information and CDC reports on the subject. For additional flu information contact a Passport Health flu professional at 1-888-499-PASS (7277) and we’ll help you schedule your flu vaccination today. Also, please visit FluFree.com for additional information on the flu and how to minimize its impact on you and your community. 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.