The Flu Report: 2/25/15 February 25, 2015 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. The number of influenza cases is falling across the nation once again this week. More states are reporting heavily reduced activity, and there is a slowing of influenza spread in Europe and throughout the rest of the world as well. Overview: Influenza rates fell again this week to just over 2,000 cases reported in the US, the lowest we have seen since mid-November of 2014. But, there have been two interesting developments that have come with this decline. First, influenza B cases are on the rise. Although there are just a few more cases than previous weeks, the overall percentage of influenza B cases has risen to over 20 percent of specimens tested. Vigilance remains important when it comes to this strain. Secondly, pneumonia and influenza mortality is still above the epidemic threshold. This rate is lower than it was in 2014 at this same time of the year and is fairly similar to the mortality rate that we saw during the 2012-2013 season by mid-February. Influenza spread seems to be more localized now, according to Centers for Disease Control data as well as that reported by FluNearYou.org. Nevada is the only state in the West with a high influenza activity rating; Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas are the worst in the Midwest; New York, Massachusetts and West Virginia are the only states with major flu spread still occurring. Hawaii and Puerto Rico are the only non-mainland regions that are experiencing high flu activity. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 2.381 (13.0% of specimens tested) Influenza A – 1,833 (77.0%) Influenza B – 540 (23.0%) Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 8.4% (1.2% 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: While much of Europe is still listed as having severe flu activity according to Google Flu Trends, some countries, like Spain and the Netherlands, are seeing a relative decline in flu activity. Japan is also on the mend as it is now listed as having only moderate activity. That being said, if you plan on traveling to Mexico or eastern Europe over spring break, be sure that you have gotten your flu shot as the regions have retained their high states of flu activity. Staying Healthy: Our tip for this week: wash you hands! Just because influenza is on the decline in the U.S. and throughout the world doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant. Wash your hands before eating or after coming in contact with anything that might be a contaminated surface. Hand sanitizers are a good alternative as well, especially if you are on the go. For additional information on influenza and what can be done to prevent it, visit FluFree.com which contains a variety of flu related resources. In order to schedule your flu shot, even for the upcoming 2015-2016 flu season, please contact a Passport Health flu professional at 1-888-499-PASS (7277) and we’ll help you get everything arranged. 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.