Flu Report: Another Jump February 25, 2016 By Will Sowards Leave a Comment Flu cases have jumped again in the United States. Week six of 2016 marks a new peak in cases for the 2015-2016 season. Has the flu vaccine been as effective this year as last? Only a global perspective can tell. In The U.S.: Wondering about the flu in your community? Click here to view the full interactive Flu Near You map. Fifteen of 53 jurisdictions reported moderate or high influenza activity this week, making this the largest amount of reported activity since the 2014-2015 flu season. All but one region is reporting elevated activity, and confirmed cases are at their highest for this year. What looked like a light flu season may not end up that light after all. People aged five to 64 have been the hardest hit, with this demographic averaging nearly 600 cases per week over the last three weeks. Luckily, flu related deaths have not greatly increased, as the most susceptible tend to be the immunocompromised, the very young, and the elderly. Part of this could be due to the fact that the young and the elderly are the most likely to be vaccinated against the virus as some primary care physicians may recommend it at a regular checkup. A rise of cases across the U.S. appears to be focused on the southwestern region with some increased activity along the Gulf coast as well. Two states (Arizona and Oklahoma) are experiencing high influenza-like-illness activity, 11 (Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah) are experiencing moderate activity and 36 have between low and minimal activity. FluNearYou shows an increase in flu-like symptoms across the United States, meaning we are likely to see more confirmed cases in the weeks to come. By The Numbers: In the United States, the CDC reported: Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 2135 (12.0% of specimens tested) Influenza A – 1559 (73.0%) Influenza B – 576 (27.0%) Flu-Related Deaths (Percentage) – 6.5% (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 Unfortunately, the United States isn’t the only place with a jump in flu cases. Europe, South East Asia, the Western Pacific, and Central and South America also show slight to moderate increases in influenza spread over the last few weeks. South East Asia has been hit especially hard with the greatest rise of all global regions. The Americas had a marked increase in influenza A-H1 cases, a strain at least partially protected against by the 2015-2016 flu vaccine. Influenza A-H1 accounts for approximately 34 percent of cases in the U.S., and of those tested and confirmed, all were characterized as being A/California/7/2009. This specific strain is the exact same one the flu vaccine protects against. Staying Healthy This year’s influenza vaccine has been a perfect match for the most common viruses circulating in the population. However, this isn’t always the case. In some years, different strains arise or a previous year’s strain remains active. Be sure to receive your annual flu shot in order to maximize protection. Changes in strain can lead to decreased immunity, but a flu shot will still help you and your family stay healthy. The same is true for some other vaccines. For example, drug-resistant strains of typhoid have begun to circulate in various parts of the world. The vaccine is still highly effective against these strains, but their changes have made vaccination even more important. Always be aware of what risks you may face from various infections, both at home or abroad. 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.