The Flu Report: 2/18/15 February 18, 2015 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. A decline in cases and sporadic reports of influenza could spell the beginning of the end for flu season in the United States. However, flu trends continue to worsen in Europe, making the vaccination crucial for travelers to this region of the globe. Overview: Since the last week in December, influenza case rates have been in constant decline, dropping from nearly 13,000 a week to just over 3,000 weekly cases. While many jurisdictions are still reporting widespread activity, some areas are now reporting low to minimal flu presence. Much of the South, a region that was affected heavily at the start of the season, shows minimal to low flu activity. Texas and the surrounding states, however, are listed as moderate to high in flu levels, underscoring the fact that some areas of the US are still fairly heavily impacted by the virus and influenza-like illness. FluNearYou.org shows only sporadic flu cases throughout the nation, pointing to the potential for flu season to wrap up shortly. The decline in influenza like illness in FluNearYou data is also reflected in CDC statistics, lending further credence to the fact that we could be very close to the end of the influenza season. That being said, it is still immensely important to follow standard anti-flu procedures. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 3,174 (14.9% of specimens tested) Influenza A – 2,768 (87.2%) Influenza B – 406 (12.8%) Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 8.1% (0.9% 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: The decline in influenza activity in North America is starting to become more noticeable, but the spread of influenza in Europe is starting to peak. As of now, only Poland and Bulgaria have a less than high rating of flu activity according to Google Flu Trends. Germany, Sweden, the Ukraine and Romania are listed as high while the rest of Europe and Russia are listed as having intense flu activity. Further east, Japan is now listed as having high activity after being listed as severe for over a month. Whether these numbers will decline as quickly as they have in the U.S. is unknown, but receiving a flu vaccination before traveling to Europe is suggested. Staying Healthy: Our tip for this week: start preparing for next year. Pawtucket Pete might have forecasted six more weeks of winter, but it is never too early to start preparing for the next winter and the 2015-2016 flu season. Feel free to call ahead and schedule your flu shot appointment or even arrange an on-site flu clinic for your business. Either way, Passport Health makes getting a flu shot convenient, and this health measure will help you stay healthy throughout 2015 and 2016. 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. 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.