Epidemic Flu Season?
The 2012-2013 flu season continues to worsen as the days go on, and as of Wednesday, January 9, 2013 Boston has declared a health emergency. According to CBS News, Boston has 700 confirmed cases of the flu, where last year at this time they only had 70. With states seeing such a large increase in flu activity, are we on our way to seeing an influenza epidemic? An epidemic occurs when the number of people infected climbs well above what is normally expected for that place and time.
The CDC reports that the baseline for office visits for influenza-like-illness in the United States is 2.2 percent. The week ending in December 29, the rate was 5.6 percent, over twice the baseline amount of visits. During the H1N1 flu season, office visit rates peaked at 7.7 percent. The percentage of flu-related deaths during that time frame was 7% – just under the epidemic threshold of 7.1%.
Worst Seasonal Flu Season in Years: Health Emergency?
Understanding previous flu seasons, and those that resulted in epidemics, can help experts educate, prevent, and treat the public. This flu season may not result in an epidemic, but it’s still a bad year for the flu. Wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home from school or work if you are sick, and consult your doctor if you think you may have the flu.
ABC News. Flu Outbreak Swamps Hospitals. (2013). Accessed January 9, 2013.
American Public Health Association. CDC Announces Early Start to 2012-2013 Flu Season. (2012). Accessed January 9, 2013.
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CBS News. National flu outbreaks widens. (2013). Accessed January 9, 2013.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2012-2013 Influenza Season Week 52 Ending December 29, 2012. (2013). Accessed January 9, 2013.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009 H1N1 Early Outbreak and Disease Characteristics. (2009). Accessed January 9, 2013.© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science