These reports are essentially a snapshot of flu activity as it was being reported a week or 10 days ago.
Week 50 ILI activity – Source CDC FluView
Doctors, epidemiologists, and other public health officials would prefer a more current status report, but collecting, collating, and analyzing data takes time.
So these reports are always a week or so behind.
One recent attempt to use the internet to track influenza activity is the Flu Near You project, which I’ve written about in the past. Run by Healthmap of Children’s Hospital Boston in partnership with the American Public Health Association and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, this project maps self-reported influenza-like-illness from its volunteers.
While self-reported flu symptom surveys cannot replace traditional influenza testing and surveillance methods, they can hopefully give us a more up-to-date idea of respiratory illness trends.
And judging by the latest Flu Near You map (current as of 9:15am EST Dec 24th), ILI’s are showing no sign of slowing across the nation.
As the number of participants grows, it is hoped that this project will become a more reliable indicator of current ILI activity around the nation.
For more on this project, and information on how you can participate, see Do You Have It In You?
Meanwhile, now is the time to take those extra steps to try to protect yourself (and others) against the flu, and other viral diseases.
- Washing your hands often
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Staying home if you are sick.
And finally, to all of my friends and readers around the world, I wish you a happy, healthy, and joyous holiday season.