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Wednesday

2012/2013 Flu Update #3

Update #3 for the week of  December 12
This weeks Mitigation Journal Flu Update includes publicly available data from the CDC FluView, Google Flu Trends, and other media sources.

Preliminary data reported for week 48/ending December 1, 2012 (latest period reported by CDC as of this post) indicates continued increases in influenza activity in the United States. The CDC reports 5,511 specimens were tested with 20.7% of those positive for influenza with the proportion of deaths from pneumonia and influenza (P&I) remaining below epidemic threshold.  Week 47/ending November 24, 2012 reported 15.2% positive of 5,342 specimens tested.

The CDC also reports three pediatric influenza related deaths for week 48/ending December 1.  Two deaths attributed to influenza A, one from influenza B. There were no pediatric deaths related to influenza in the week 47 period.

Neuraminidase inhibitor resistance testing continues to show circulating influenza virus samples of Influenza A/H3N2, 2009 H1N1, and Influenza B are susceptible to oseltamivir and zanamivir. Sporadic cases of neuraminidase inhibitor resistance has been identified outside the United States.

Video compilation of flu maps from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported for week 48/ending December 1, 2012.



Google Flu Trends data reports "high" flu activity in the United States as of December 11, 2012.



In the news.
Flu forecasting model may become as common weather forecasts in the future.
The Columbia University Mailman School of Public Heath is reporting on a computer model that may predict regional outbreaks in influenza. The new forecasting model, published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, uses data from Google Flu Trends and climactic data to predict influenza. The model combines data from these sources and is adjusted for regional geography to minimize error.

Flu forecasting has numerous benefits and, if used correctly, will have a positive impact on preparedness. Just as a weather forecast that predicts rain causes people to carry an umbrella, a flu forecast may prompt people to take a parallel protective action such as getting a vaccine or remaining home if they're ill. Flu forecasting could eventually lead to larger scale forecasting during a biologic event and  help public health officals and responders prepare for and respond to these situations.

Links:
Flu Forecasts Could Soon Join Weathercasts. Voice of America, Science World
Scientists develop flu-forecasting model. Vaccine News Daily


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