Peak flu season is here, but it may not stick around for much longer.
Week six of the flu season showed a significant spike in flu cases.
As of February 11, 37 of 53 jurisdictions across the United States report moderate-to-high Influenza Like Illness (ILI). Despite those high numbers, flu cases will likely drop in the coming weeks.
This is promising news for a flu season that is fast approaching last year’s flu total.
In the United States:
This was a busy week for flu in the United States.
The week ending on February 11 saw a rise in confirmed flu cases with nearly 8,500, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s roughly 1,000 more cases than were reported in the week before.
As the number of cases rise, so does the percentage of positive specimens.
Almost a quarter of all tested specimens proved to be positive for one of the influenza strains. This is a sharp rise in the percentage compared to tests for the rest of the flu season. So far in the 2016 – 2017 flu season, only 11 percent of specimens tested positive for the virus.
A spike in this percentage is actually common at this point in the flu season. Doctors and their patients have a greater grasp of the symptoms for this season and show some caution when it comes to getting tested for the virus. Rather than immediately jumping at any chance to test for the virus, they might show restraint and be sure that it’s the flu and not some other illness.
FluNearYou uses both user-generated data and CDC data to gauge the the flu season throughout the United States. Users are reporting a rise in flu-like symptoms across the country. While this may not seem to be a sign that the season is nearing its end, numbers are still likely to climb for a few more weeks before falling off.
The western United States is the only region without a state reporting high ILI activity. The southern U.S. is specifically getting hit the hardest by the flu. From Texas to North Carolina, the whole region is riddled with patients heading to doctors with flu-like symptoms.
By The Numbers:
In the United States, the CDC reported:
- Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed for the 2016 – 2017 season) – 49,651 (11.2% of specimens tested)
- Influenza A – 43,104 (86.8%)
- Influenza B – 6,547 (13.2%)
- Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed during the week of February 4 – February 11) – 8,498 (24.2%)
- Influenza A – 7,079 (83.3%)
- Influenza B – 1,419 (16.7%)
NOTE: Flu cases, as referenced above, are confirmed cases in people who have gone to see medical professionals. Percentage estimates include these documented cases from medical professionals but also a variety of other self-reported metrics.
Around the World
Flu cases appear to be fluctuating depending on the country, according to the World Health Organization.
Areas in Europe and East Asia are currently peaking in their flu season or are coming close to peak cases. More than half of European countries are reporting medium to very high intensity for flu cases. This is not surprising in what has been a very busy flu season in Europe. Influenza activity started earlier than usual on the continent and it will likely be at least a few weeks before those numbers start to drop. In East Asia (Eastern China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan) flu may be worse than anywhere else in the world this year. The region is reporting over 30 percent positive influenza results in tested specimens.
Good news for travelers is that the rest of the world is having far more luck with the flu this year.
All other parts of Asia are either reporting decreasing flu cases or low activity. South America, Central America, Africa and the Caribbean are all showing low risk for influenza.
We may be deep in the season, but it’s still not too late for a flu shot. With cases still expected to rise for at least a little while longer, we recommend getting the vaccine before the virus is done peaking.
For travelers, even if you’re headed to an area with low risk for the flu, consider a flu shot. Coming down with the bug can be a quick way to ruin a vacation or business trip.
If you are leaving the country and looking to get a flu shot, or just want one while staying at home, Passport Health can help. A meeting with one of our travel health specialists can help you avoid the flu and other contagious diseases this season. To schedule a travel health appointment today, call us at or book an appointment online.