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2012/2013 Flu Update #5

Update #5 for the week of January 13, 2013

This weeks Mitigation Journal Flu Update includes publicly available data from the CDC FluView, Google Flu Trends, Sickweather and other media sources.

This report contains data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2012/2013 Influenza season week 1 for the period ending January 5, 2013. In this reporting period (December 30, 2012 to January 5, 2013) all flu data sources report increased flu activity with many areas reporting hospital surge capacity nearing maximum and emergency departments "flooded" with flu cases. Boston, Massachusetts, has declared a public health emergency related to seasonal influenza and has opened public vaccination centers.

According to the CDC flu activity is still elevated, but may be on the decline in some places. As of last report, 29.6% of influenza samples (1,846) were positive for influenza (see 2012/2013 Flu Update #4 week 51). Latest data for week 1 shows 12,876 specimens tested and reported by WHO with 32.8% positive (4,222) for influenza. As a result, the CDC now states pneumonia and influenza mortality is above epidemic threshold. There were no new infections with H3N2 variant/novel influenza A during week 1.

Forty-seven states continue to report widespread flu activity with circulating strains of virus continuing to be susceptible to neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications (Tamiflu). Supply of Tamiflu has been a concern and reports indicate that a shortage of the antiviral/neuraminidase inhibitor could occur. Reserves of Tamiflu has been released from the Canadian National Stockpile  to ease shortages. 

CDC FluView Map for Week 1, 2013

As noted above, Boston declared a public health emergency due to seasonal influenza and the mainstream media seems to have jumped on the preparedness bandwagon. Boston officials have described ten-times normal amount of flu cases, 25% of those requiring hospitalization and resulting in over burdening of healthcare systems. Boston has now established fee flu clinics to promote vaccine. Meanwhile the CDC and some public health officials believe the intense flu situation may have reached its peak.

Google Flu Trends continue to gauge flu activity throughout the United States as "intense".

Google Flu Trend as of January 6, 2013

New to the MJ Flu Update this week is Sickweather. This service scans social media networks for indicators of illness. Sickweather may be among the most promising use of social media for identification of adverse health situations. A full review of Sickweather will be posted shortly. In the meantime, visit for more information on this important tool. 

Sickweather map data as of January 8, 2013

See also:
Mitigation Journal
Writing your biologic plan
In the News
RN fired for declining flu vaccine and refusing  to wear a mask (USAToday)
Eight hospital employees fired for declining flu vaccine
Web Tools
CDC FluView
CDC Flu App
Google Flu Trends

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