OutSmart Flu welcomes you back from Winter Break and to the new semester.

Flu transmission continues in the U.S. and Wisconsin. However, the pattern appears to be unique in Madison. The next several screens depict flu transmission in the U.S. and Wisconsin according the CDC and Google Flu Trends.

CDC ILI surveillance shows Wisconsin at low(ish) transmission as of 1/11/14

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While Google Flu Trends (1/22/14) depicts a moderate level of flu transmission

CDC ILI surveillance indicates we may be post-peak.
Flu transmission in the U.S. this year (red) vs. previous years

Source: CDC Flu View

ILI at UHS
At UHS, only 2-3% of clinic visits are for influenza-like illness (ILI). Flu transmission in Madison dropped in the last month; this was not surprising since a large number of students were away for Winter Break. Thus, the pattern in Madison is unique from the rest of Wisconsin and the U.S. based on Google Flu trends (next three graphs).

Flu in U.S. this year (thick) vs. previous years (thin)

Source: Google Flu Trends; 1/22/14

Flu in Madison this year (thick) vs. previous years (thin). Note the drop during Winter Break.

Source: Google Flu Trends; 1/22/14

Flu in Milwaukee this year (thick) vs. previous years (thin).

Source: Google Flu Trends; 1/22/14

Flu among younger individuals
In many areas of the country, including Wisconsin, there has been a proportionally higher number of younger adults hospitalized with influenza, specifically H1N1 (swine flu). While this is unusual for influenza, in general, it can be explained by two factors:

1. Non-vaccinated younger adults have little to no immunity against H1N1. Older adults are more likely to have some immunity to H1N1 because similar swine flu viruses circulated in the U.S. prior to 1957.

2. Younger adults are less likely to get the flu vaccine as compared to older adults. In 2009, the H1N1 vaccine was first given as a separate shot. From 2010 onward, H1N1 has been contained in the seasonal flu vaccine. There is evidence that getting the flu shot annually affords greater protection than getting it sporadically (or not at all, of course).

Flu in 2014
What will be the pattern of flu transmission on campus in 2014? It’s possible that the recent influx of tens of thousands of UW-Madison students back to Madison will “stir the pot” and we’ll see a rise in ILI in the coming weeks. It is also possible that the declining trend in ILI due to the dispersion of students out of Madison over Winter Break will simply continue downward. There is always the possibility of a second peak in flu transmission later in the season as has been observed previously. The next few weeks will be very interesting!

Flu Vaccine
To date, influenza strains circulating in Wisconsin are contained in the 2013-14 Seasonal Flu Vaccine. That’s good news.
It’s not too late to get the flu shot. If there isn’t a medical reason for you to avoid the vaccine, make an appointment with UHS to get vaccinated (call 608-265-5600).

Grow OSF
Thank you for being citizen scientists and helping to track flu and flu prevention on campus.
The continued growth of our community of users will improve the accuracy of estimating flu on our campus. Please invite your friends to join this unique initiative. You can use the share button on the app to email your friends to join OSF.

Raffle
Our next raffle for $500 is on March 13, 2014. Good luck!

Twitter and Facebook
Please follow us on Twitter (@outsmartflu) and like us on Facebook (Out Smart Flu). Retweet our tweets and share our posts. Help OutSmart Flu go viral at UW!

Have a great Spring Semester!

 

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