Flu Report: Happy Holidays! December 17, 2015 By Will Sowards 1 Comment South Carolina has become the first US state to reach a high level of influenza-like-illness, but laboratory confirmed infections are still down across the U.S. We look at why this might be and how the fight against the flu is going in this week’s Flu Report. In The U.S.: Wondering about the flu in your community? Click here to view the full interactive Flu Near You map. Confirmed influenza cases in the United States are once again down from the previous week, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting. While still higher than the average, confirmed influenza cases have remained fairly low throughout this year’s flu season. As we get closer to the normal peak weeks, we do expect to see a rise, but how great that rise will be is still unclear. What’s interesting is the status of influenza-like-illness in various parts of the nation, as this statistic is a potential indicator of what we may see in confirmed cases. South Carolina is the first state to show high activity, but no states show moderate activity, and four (Arizona, Mississippi, New Jersey and Texas) show low activity. The other 45 states have minimal activity. Although influenza-like activity is a less reliable way of identifying flu cases, it is often one of our best methods of understanding spread throughout the U.S. Because of this, we expect to see a bit of a jump in cases in the coming weeks. But, FluNearYou’s reporting (once again, based on ILI but user-reported) seems to indicate we may stay at just about the same levels of infection. We’ll revisit these points when we return with our next installment of the Flu Report in the new year. By The Numbers: In the United States, the CDC reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 185 (1.6% of specimens tested) Influenza A – 122 (65.9%) Influenza B – 63 (34.1%) Flu-Related Deaths (Percentage) – 5.9% (1.0% 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 Laboratory-confirmed influenza cases remain low throughout the world, and they are almost at 52 week lows in some regions. Europe and parts of the Americas are showing extremely low influenza rates for this time of year, in at least the laboratory-confirmed metric. If U.S. reporting trends hold true, with reports of influenza-like-illness rising while confirmed cases remain stable, it is possible only light strains are passing through these regions. That being said, other years’ influenza trends have started earlier and dropped off near the ‘average’ peak. It is possible we could see the opposite here, but an increasing amount of data points to a light flu season overall. Staying Healthy During the holiday season, millions of people travel to different parts of the United States and the world. Be sure to take proper precautions before you go including bringing along some hand sanitizer, getting a good night’s sleep, and (if you are traveling internationally) receiving a consultation from your local Passport Health clinic about what you can do to medically prepare yourself for your trip. Many vaccines like yellow fever are required for entry into some countries, but they last for years providing you with protection for multiple trips or even a lifetime. This will be our last Flu Report of 2015 as we will be taking a break for the holidays, but we will return on Jan. 6. We thank you all so much for your support throughout the first year of the Flu Report. As we look ahead to 2016, we look forward to continuing to provide all of our current and future users with the highest quality content possible. 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 giving the latest updates on influenza spread during flu season. It is posted every Wednesday from September to April and focuses on regional outbreaks, global spread and ways to avoid infection.