Flu Report: Is the Flu Near Me? Not Yet! October 21, 2015 By Will Sowards Leave a Comment This week’s flu report features our first official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting for this season. Influenza rates remain low, but a few spots could become worrisome in the weeks ahead. In The U.S.: Wondering about the flu in your community? Click here to view the full interactive Flu Near You map. This week marks the first time in the 2015-2016 flu season that we have official week-to-week CDC data to report on. While influenza infection rates seem to remain consistent with what we saw last month, there seem to be fewer cases of the virus than we expected. No jurisdictions are reporting high or moderate influenza-like-illness activity, and only 1.2 percent of infected specimens have tested positive. What does this mean? Not much for now. Recent data indicates what we, the CDC and other organizations have been reporting for quite some time: this year’s flu shot appears to be quite effective against the virus. However, some areas are showing early signs of increased activity. Alabama, Minnesota and Nevada are between low and minimal influenza-like-illness activity, and Oklahoma is showing localized influenza spread in some areas. Most of this activity is still very minimal, but it has the potential to grow in the coming weeks. FluNearYou seems to corroborate some of this CDC data with localized, self-reported information. This source continues to show the New York/Boston areas as well as the region between Cleveland and Chicago as having some of the highest influenza activity in the country. Still, overall flu-like activity is hovering around 1.5 percent, according to the service. By The Numbers: In the United States, the CDC reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 104 (1.2% of specimens tested) Influenza A – 76 (73.1%) Influenza B – 28 (26.9%) Flu-Related Deaths (Percentage) – 5.5% (1.1% below 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 World Health Organization’s newest global influenza report continues to show increased influenza activity in Southeast Asia, Micronesia and Australia, where a high percentage of specimens are testing positive for the virus. It appears influenza has spread west to the Middle East and Northern Africa. In both cases, flu activity is light to sporadic and is almost exclusively the H1N1 variant which has been prevalent in the U.S. as well. Please note the current flu vaccine protects against this strain and would be recommended for all individuals, especially travelers to the affected areas. Staying Healthy As we see influenza starting to slowly spread throughout the United States, vaccination becomes increasingly more important. Vaccination is the best protection, but other measures can help you stay healthy as well. Washing your hands is a must this time of year to avoid all infections, not just the flu. When washing your hands, be sure to wet them, lather them in soap and then thoroughly rinse them. A good rule of thumb is to take at least 30 seconds when washing your hands or the amount of time it may take to recite a nursery rhyme a couple of times. When combined with vaccination, hand washing can be key to keeping yourself healthy throughout the winter months. For additional information on influenza and its prevention, visit FluFree.com which contains a variety of flu related resources. To schedule your flu shot, please contact a Passport Health flu professional at and make it through flu season worry-free. The Flu Report is a weekly blog post that gives the latest updates influenza spread throughout flu season. It is posted every Wednesday from September to April and focuses on regional outbreaks, global spread and ways to avoid infection.