The Flu Report: 3/18/15 March 18, 2015 By Will Sowards Leave a Comment Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map. Influenza infection rates are leveling off in the US as the northern hemisphere’s flu season concludes, but influenza B infections continue to rise as we look at this week’s flu statistics. Overview: Once again, we saw another fall in influenza cases throughout the United States over the past week, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Less than 2,000 cases were reported in the organization’s most recent release, but it does appear that the rate of decline is beginning to slow. It is typical for cases to decline during this period of the year, but the increase in influenza B cases, while not troubling, is of note. Influenza B has accounted for less than nine percent of all influenza cases this season, but the number of cases due to this virus strain has slowly been rising and now comprise the majority of week-to-week influenza cases. Although there is unlikely to be an epidemic of the B strain, it is possible that it will spread a bit more before the flu season is officially declared to be over. FluNearYou.org is showing that only two percent of the site’s users are reporting flu-like symptoms, and just 13 percent are reporting any symptoms at all. Unfortunately, however, flu-related deaths are once again above the epidemic threshold, and influenza-associated pediatric deaths have now reached 104 for the 2014-2015 flu season, meaning it is very likely there will be more pediatric deaths this year when compared to last year. It is also very possible this statistic could be at its worst in the last five years with the exception of the 2012-2013 flu season. By the Numbers: In the United States, the CDC has reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 1,670 (11.4% of specimens tested) Influenza A- 800 (47.9%) Influenza B- 870 (52.1%) Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 7.6% (0.4% 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: European influenza infection rates have declined further over the last week across most of the continent. However, flu activity is still listed as intense throughout northern and eastern Europe by Google Flu Trends. Meanwhile, Mexico has a high rating of flu activity. For the first time in many months, we are also seeing flu activity in South America as Paraguay is now listed as having low activity, making it the first nation in the Southern Hemisphere to be given this designation. Staying Healthy: Many people throughout the United States will be participating in spring break over the coming weeks. If you plan on traveling, be sure to take all proper precautions to avoid contracting the flu overseas including washing your hands regularly, using sanitizers, and avoiding those who may be infected. Of course, do not forget to get your flu shot, as being vaccinated is the best precaution against the flu. 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.